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'The Book of the People" 

Translated into English by 

Delia Goetz and Sylvanus Griswold Morley 

from Adrian Recino's translation 

from Quiche into Spanish 

Plantin Press, Los Angeles 
[1954, copyright not registered or renewed] 

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1. The Chronicles of the Indians 3 

2. The Manuscript of Chichicastenango 7 

3. The Author of the Popol Vuh 8 

4. The Writings of Father Ximenez 9 

5. The Translations of the Popol Vuh 16 

Preamble 34 

Part I 38 

Part II 64 

Part III 126 

Part IV 149 

[a] A Note by Sylvanus Griswold Morley 191 

[b] A Note by Adrian Recinos 192 

[c] Paper Concerning the Origin of the Lords 195 

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1. The Chronicles of the Indians 

When the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards was completed, Hernan Cortes, who had heard 
of the existence of rich lands inhabited by a number of tribes in Guatemala, decided to send Pedro 
de Alvarado, the most fearless of his captains, to subdue them. 

In the sixteenth century, the territory immediately to the south of Mexico, which is now the 
Republic of Guatemala, was inhabited by various independent nations which were descended 
from the ancient Maya, founders of the remarkable civilization whose remains are to be found 
throughout northern Guatemala and western Honduras, in Chiapas, and in Yucatan, Mexico. Of 
the nations located in the interior of Guatemala, the most important and numerous, without doubt, 
were the kingdoms of the Quiche and of the Cakchiquel, rival nations which had often made war 
upon each other for territorial, political, and economic reasons, and which continually disputed 
with each other for supremacy. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, the Quiche nation was the 
most powerful and cultured of all those that occupied the region of Central America. In 1524, 
when Alvarado attacked the Quiche, the Indians offered vigorous resistance, but after bloody 
battles they were forced to surrender before the superiority of the arms and tactics of the 
Spaniards. As a last desperate measure, the Quiche kings decided to receive Alvarado in peace at 
Utatlan, their capital. But once within its walls, the astute Spanish captain suspected that they 
were trying to destroy him and his army in the narrow streets between the fortifications, and so he 
withdrew to the surrounding fields and there seized the kings, condemned them to death as 
traitors, and executed them before their terrorized subjects. Then he ordered the city razed to the 
ground and the inhabitants scattered in all directions. 

When the conquest of the Quiche was completed, it is likely that a part of the inhabitants of 
Utatlan, especially members of the nobility and the priesthood, who had their houses in the capital 
and saw them disappear in the devouring flames, moved to Chichicastenango, the next town, 
which the ancient Quiche called Chuila, or "place of nettles." Later the Spaniards named this 
town Santo Tomas and entrusted its pacification to missionaries of the religious orders, who 
converted the inhabitants to the Roman Catholic faith and introduced them to the civilization of 
the Old World. In this way, Santo Tomas Chichicastenango, as it is still called, became an 
important center of the Quiche Indians, which prospered throughout the three hundred years of 
Spanish rule and which today is still one of the most industrious and extensive Indian 
communities of Guatemala and the Mecca of foreigners, who are strongly attracted by the natural 
beauty of the place and the picturesque dress and customs of its people. 

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Father Francisco Ximenez of the Dominican Order 
lived within the thick walls of the convent of Chichicastenango. Father Ximenez was a wise and 
virtuous man, who knew the languages of the Indians and had a lively interest in converting them 
to the Christian faith. It is probable that in his dealings with them, and through his help and 
fatherly advice, he had won their confidence and had succeeded in having them tell him the stones 
and traditions of their race. Ximenez, as I have said, was an accomplished linguist and, therefore, 

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had the advantage of being able to communicate with his parishioners directly in the Quiche 
language, concerning which he has left valuable grammatical studies. All of these favorable 
circumstances helped to overcome the natural distrust of the Indians, and it is probably due to this 
fact that, finally, the book which they so jealously guarded, and which contained the ancient 
histories of their nation, came into the hands of this Dominican friar. 

This document, written shortly after the Spanish Conquest by a Quiche Indian who had learned to 
read and write Spanish, is generally known as the Popol Vuh, Popol Buj, Book of the Council, 
Book of the Community, the Sacred Book, or National Book of the Quiche, and it contains the 
cosmogonical concepts and ancient traditions of this aboriginal American people, the history of 
their origin, and the chronology of their kings down to the year 1550. 

The name of its author and the fate of his original manuscript, which remained hidden for more 
than 150 years, are unknown. Father Ximenez, who found it in his parish at Santo Tomas 
Chichicastenango, transcribed the original Quiche text and translated it into Spanish under the 
title Historias del origen de los Indios de esta Provincia de Guatemala. This transcription, in the 
handwriting of this priest-historian, is still preserved; but no information has survived concerning 
the original document written in the Quiche tongue, and it is possible that after Father Ximenez 
had finished copying it, it was returned to its Indian owners and to the obscurity in which it had 
remained up to then. 

Ximenez says in the foreword to his second translation of the manuscript that the lack of 
information about the ancient history of the Indians is due to the fact that they hid their books in 
which it was written, and if some of them had been found in some places, it was impossible to 
read or to understand them. For this reason—says the historian— "much has been imagined about 
these various peoples and their origin." And he adds: "And so I determined to transcribe, word for 
word, all of their tales and translated them into our Spanish language from the Quiche language in 
which I found they had been written, from the time of the Conquest, when (as they say there) they 
changed their way of writing to ours. . . . 

In the Relation of Fray Alonso Ponce's expedition it is said that one of the three things for which 
the Maya of Yucatan (whom he visited in 1586) were most praised is that "they had characters 
and letters, with which they wrote their histories and ceremonies and the order of the sacrifices to 
their idols and their calendar in books made of the bark of a certain tree, which were some very 
long strips of a quarter or a third [of a Spanish vara] in width which they folded and brought 
together and in this way it had the form of a bound book in quarto, more or less. Only the priests 
of the idols (who in that language are called 'ahkines ') and some principal Indians understood 
these letters and characters." 

The Indians of Mexico and Guatemala also preserved their histories and other writings by means 
of paintings on cloths, some of which were saved from the general destruction in which the books 
and Indian documents disappeared. The Bishop of Chiapas, Fray Bartolome de las Casas, who, 
from the beginning of the Conquest, gathered extensive information about the life and customs of 
the Indians, says, in an oft-quoted passage, that among them were chroniclers and historians who 
knew the origin of everything pertaining to their religion, the founding of villages and cities, how 
the kings and lords carried out their memorable deeds, how they governed, and how they elected 

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their successors; they knew about their great men and their courageous captains, of their wars, 
their ancient customs, and all that belonged to their history. And, he adds: "These chroniclers kept 
account of the days, months, and years [and] although they did not have writing such as ours, they 
had, nevertheless, their figures and characters," with which they could represent all that they 
wanted to and with them they formed "their large books With such keen and subtle skill that we 
might say our writings were not an improvement over theirs. Some of these books were seen by 
our clergy, and even I saw part of those which were burned by the monks, apparently because 
they thought [these books] might harm the Indians in matters concerning religion, since at that 
time they were at the beginning of their conversion." 

The historians Acosta, Clavijero, and Ixtiilxochitl say that the Indians learned to recite the most 
notable speeches of their ancestors and the songs of their poets, and that one or another of them 
taught these to the youths in schools which were connected with the temples, and in this way they 
were handed down from generation to generation. 

In another passage of the Apologetica, Bishop Las Casas reports that the Mexican Indians had 
five books of figures and characters. The first book contained the history and the computation of 
their time; the second had the days of ceremony and the feast days of each year; the third dealt 
with dreams, auguries, and superstitions; the fourth with the way in which children were named; 
and the fifth contained their marriage rites and ceremonies. He adds that besides computing the 
years, feast days, and days of ceremony, the books of the first class told of their wars, victories, 
and defeats, the origin, genealogy, and deeds of the principal lords, and public disasters and their 
conquests down to the arrival of the Spaniards. This book mentions the peoples who in olden 
times inhabited the territory of Mexico, and of whom it says confusingly that they came from the 
Seven Ravines. That first book, says Las Casas in conclusion, is called Xiuhtonalamatl in the 
Indian language, or "Story of the Counting of the Years." 

Ixtiilxochitl, on his part, makes the following statement about his Mexican ancestors: 

"Each tribe had its writers; some wrote annals, arranging in order the things that came to pass 
during each year, together with the day, month, and hour; others had charge of the genealogy of 
the descendants of the kings, lords, and persons of lineage, setting down with detailed account 
those who were born, and in the same manner striking out the names of those who died. Some had 
the care of the paintings of the boundaries, limits, and landmarks of the lands; whose they were, 
and to whom they belonged; others had charge of the books of laws, rites, and ceremonies which 
they followed." 

According to Ixtiilxochitl, Huematzin, the king of Tezcuco, had gathered together all the 
chronicles of the Tolteca in the Teoamoxtli, or "Divine Book," which contained the legends of the 
creation of the world, the emigration from Asia of those peoples, the stops on the Journey, the 
dynasty of their kings, their social and religious institutions, their sciences, arts, and so on. 

Herrera, the well-known compiler of the Spanish historical reports of the sixteenth century, 
repeats the information about these native books which were found "in Yucatan and in 
Honduras." Oviedo and Gomara, on their part, give an account of the books of the Indians of 
Nicaragua. "They have, "says Gomara, "books of paper and parchment, a hand in width and 

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twelve hands in length, folded like a bellows, on both sides of which they make known, in blue, 
purple, and other colors, the memorable events which take place." 

Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who wrote his Verdadera Historia de la Conquista de la Nueva Espaha, 
in Guatemala, says that the Indians of Mexico had "booklets of a paper made of the bark of a tree 
which they called amate [Ficus], and in them made their signs of the times and of past events." 

It was very difficult for the natives of Guatemala to renounce the traditions of their forefathers, 
and for a long time after the Conquest they continued to perform their dances, during which they 
sang episodes of their ancient history and recited passages of their mythology. The Spaniards 
were not pleased with this, and as early as the year 1550, Licenciado Tomas Lopez, Oidor of the 
Audiencia of Guatemala, less tolerant than his predecessor the illustrious Zorita, requested the 
King that he not permit the Indians to perform their old dances, as they do, singing their ancient, 
idolatrous histories." 

The American Indian's devotion to his ancient beliefs still persisted in Yucatan in the seventeenth 
century, according to the following paragraphs from Cogolludo's Historia de Yucatan: 

"They had very harmful legends of the creation of the world, and some (after they knew how) had 
written them down, kept them and read them in their gatherings, although they had been baptized 
Christians. Dr. Aguilar says in his Informe that he had one of these books of legends which he 
took from a choir-master of the chapel, by the name of Cuytun, of the town of Zucop, from which 
he [the choir-master] fled, and he could never reach him in order to learn the origin of their 

With a very liberal and human understanding, befitting real Christian missionaries, the Spanish 
priests and friars of Guatemala from the beginning of the Colonial Period undertook to teach the 
Indians to read and write Spanish. Some of the latter made rapid progress, in writing and using the 
Latin alphabet, and wrote in their own language the chronicles and stories of the ancient times 
which they had preserved by handing them down by word of mouth, or by means of pictorial 
characters. The Spanish clergy not only did not oppose this work, but actually encouraged the 
Indians in it, and thanks to this enlightened policy, valuable documents have come down to us 
which shed light on the history of the races that inhabited the country many centuries before the 
Spaniards arrived. 

Besides the Manuscrito de Chichicastenango, the following are the only original Quiche 
documents which are preserved: 

1. The original manuscript of the Historia Quiche by Don Juan de Torres, dated October 24, 
1580, which differs from the manuscript which Fuentes y Guzman cites and which contains the 
account of the kings and lords, chiefs of the Great Houses, and of the chinamitales or calpules of 
the Quiche; 

2. The Spanish translation of the Titulos de los antiguos nuestros antepasados, los que ganaron 
las tierras de Otzoyd, written apparently in 1524 and bearing the signature of Don Pedro de 

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3. The Spanish translation of the Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapdn, dated 1554; and 

4. The Papel del Origen de los Senores included in the Descripcion de Zapotitldn y Suchitepec, 
ano de 1579. 

Despite their brevity, these documents contain interesting accounts of the origin, political 
organization, and history of the Quiche people, which supplement the information given in the 
Popol Vuh. 

2. The Manuscript of Chichicastenango 

1 he manuscript which Father Francisco Ximenez found in his parish at Chichicastenango ranks 
highest among the documents composed by the American Indians after they had learned to write 
their own languages by means of the Latin letters which the Spanish missionaries had taught 
them. Its author was undoubtedly one of the first students who learned from the friars the 
marvelous art of phonetic writing. The Quiche chronicler knew that in olden times there was a 
book which contained the traditions and accounts of his people, and, knowing them perfectly, he 
had the happy inspiration of recording them. 

The author of the Manuscript says that he writes it because now the Popol Vuh, or the original 
"Book of the People," as Ximenez calls it, is no longer to be seen. We have no facts by which to 
identify this original book other than those which its unknown author gives. Nevertheless, from 
the knowledge that we have of the American Indians' system of writing before the Conquest, it 
seems doubtful that the ancient Quiche book could have been a document of set form and 
permanent literary composition. Rather one must suppose that it might have been a book of 
paintings with hieroglyphs which the priests interpreted to the people in order to keep alive in 
them the knowledge of the origin of their race and the mysteries of their religion. 

The Manuscript of Chichicastenango has no title. It begins directly with these words: 

"This is the beginning of the old traditions of this place called Quiche. Here we shall write and we 
shall begin the old tales., the beginning and the origin of all that was done in the town of the 
Quiche, by the tribes of the Quiche nation." 

And two paragraphs farther on the same narrator says: 

"This we shall write now within the Law of God and Christianity; we shall bring it to light 
because now the Popol Vuh as it is called cannot be seen any more, in which was clearly seen the 
coming from the other side of the sea, and the narration of our obscurity, and our life was dearly 
seen. The original book written long ago existed; but its sight is hidden from the searcher and the 

"The truth is," says Ximenez, "that such a book never appeared nor has been seen, and thus it is 
not known if this way of writing was by paintings, as those of Mexico, or by knotting strings, as 
the Peruvians: you may believe that it was by painting on woven white cloths." This was the 

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graphic system in use in Mexico and Guatemala, and Father Sahagun, writing in the sixteenth 
century, says that he was informed of the ancient things of New Spain directly by the Indians, and 
adds that "all the information that I obtained, they made known to me by means of their 

The influence of the Bible is evident in the description of the creation, although this does not 
succeed in taking away the indigenous flavor of the Quiche book. Commenting on the edition of 
the Popol Vuh by Brasseur de Bourbourg, Adolf Bandelier observed in 1881 that the first 
sentences appear to be transcriptions of the Book of Genesis and are not aboriginally American. 
He argues that in the epoch in which the Popol Vuh was written the Indians of Guatemala were 
already under the influence of the paintings, books, and chants which the Spanish missionaries 
used to instruct them in Christianity. The native author expressly declares, in the Preamble of this 
work, that he is writing under Christianity. The editor of the Spanish translation of the French text 
of Brasseur de Bourbourg has carefully noted the concordance of its first chapter with the Book of 
Genesis. Max Miiller had previously (1878) referred to certain similarities between the Popol Vuh 
and the Old Testament, but although admitting that there was Biblical influence in this book, he 
believes that it must be recognized that its content was a true product of the intellectual soil of 

The Popol Vuh was also the book of prophecies and the oracle of the kings and lords, according to 
a reference which the author of the Manuscript makes In another passage, where he states that the 
kings "knew if there would be war and everything was clear before their eyes; they saw if there 
would be death and hunger, if there would be strife. They well knew that there was a place where 
it could be seen, that there was a book which they called Popol Vuh." And in the final paragraph, 
the Quiche chronicler adds with a melancholic accent that what he has said in his work is all that 
has been preserved of the ancient Quiche, "because no longer can be seen [the book of the Popol 
Vuh] which the kings had in olden times, for it has disappeared." 

Concerning the time in which the Manuscript was composed, there are two important facts in the 
document itself which make it possible to determine its date approximately. The first is the visit 
that the Bishop of Guatemala made to the city of Utatlan, or Gumarcaah, which place, as one 
reads in the Manuscript itself was blessed by Bishop Francisco Marroquin. Ximenez says that 
Bishop Marroquin gave Utatlan the name of Santa Cruz del Quiche "when in the year 1539 he 
was at that Court and, blessing the place he fixed and raised the standard of the Faith." 

The second important fact mentioned above is found in the final chapter of the Manuscript, which 
contains the succession of the kings and lords of the Quiche. In it, Teciin and Tepepul, the sons of 
the kings burned by Alvarado in 1524, are named as the thirteenth generation of kings, and Don 
Juan Rojas and Don Juan Cortes, the sons of Teciin and Tepepul, are named as the last successors 
to the dignity, and as of the fourteenth generation of kings. The latter Quiche lords were still 
living in the middle of the sixteenth century. The Oidor Zorita, previously mentioned, lived in 
Guatemala from 1553 to 1557, as a member of the Royal Audience, and he says that he traveled 
through the province several times as inspector and that he met "those, who were at one time 
Lords of Utatlan, [are] as poor and miserable as the poorest Indian of the village, and their wives 
made the tortillas for their meal . . . and they carried water and wood for their houses. . . ."As this 
change in the situation of the last Quiche kings is not recorded in the Popol Vuh, there is ground 

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for believing that the composition of the Manuscript of Chichicastenango had been finished 
before November 22, 1558. 

3. The Author of the Popol Vuh 

1 he manuscript of Chichicastenango is an anonymous document. Father Ximenez, who had the 
original manuscript in his hands, and transcribed and translated it into Spanish, left no indication 
whatever of its author. The terms which Ximenez employed in referring to this document lead one 
to think that he believed there had been various authors, or compilers, of the Quiche book. In the 
foreword to his principal work, the Dominican chronicler says that he translated the histories of 
the Indians into the Spanish language from the Quiche tongue in which he found them written 
"from the time of the Conquest, when (as they say there) they changed their way of writing their 
histories into our way of writing." And two paragraphs farther on, he repeats the same idea when 
he says that he determined "to set down and transcribe here all their histories, according to the 
way they have them written." 

Speaking of the accounts composed by the Indians after the Conquest, the Dominican chronicler 
who wrote the Isagoge Historica Apologetica says: 

"The Preaching Father Francisco Ximenez; translated from the Quiche language into Spanish a 
very old manuscript, without giving the name of the author, and without [giving] the year in 
which it was written, and it is only known by the manuscript itself that it was written in the 
village of Santa Cruz of the Quiche, shortly after the conquest of this Kingdom." 

The well-known philologist Rudolf Schuller believes that there is basis for attributing the 
authorship of the Popol Vuh to Diego Reynoso; but he interprets the citations of Ximenez and of 
the Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapdn differently, and, in my judgment, inaccurately. 

It is well to clarify here these points about the person of Diego Reynoso, because they are 
concerned with one of the few known Indian authors who have left written accounts subsequent 
to, or contemporary with, the Conquest. Although educated by the Spanish priests, Reynoso never 
renounced his name and status as that of a noble Quiche Indian and the fact that he never joined 
any of the Spanish religious orders gives greater validity to his accounts of the ancient times of 
his nation. 

The problem relative to the author of the Popol Vuh must nevertheless remain unsolved; and so 
long as no new evidence is discovered which will throw light upon the matter, the famous 
manuscript must be considered as an anonymous account, written by one or more descendants of 
the Quiche race according to the traditions of their forefathers. 

4. The Writings of Father Ximenez 

1 he long and well-spent days of Ximenez' life among the Indians of the interior of Guatemala 
proved to him how necessary it was for the clergy to have a thorough knowledge of the languages 

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of those places. The Spanish government had ordered that the natives be taught in the Spanish 
language, but this would have required the establishment of hundreds of village and rural schools 
which were never founded in the Colonial Period. Therefore, the Indians had to be addressed in 
their own language and even in the dialect of each regional district. To further the priests' and 
friars' communications with the Indians for all their material and spiritual needs, Ximenez wrote 
an excellent grammar of the Quiche language and several religious treatises in the three principal 
dialects of Guatemala. He showed preference for the Quiche language, which he spoke for more 
than twenty years and for which he had a very high regard, as is evident in Chapter XXV of Book 
I of his Historia de la Provincia. Far from being a barbaric language, Quiche, says Ximenez, is so 
orderly, harmonious, and exact, and so consistent in character with the nature and properties of 
things, that he became convinced that" this language is the principal one of the world." Our 
linguistically-minded historian, casting aside all modesty, declares that through diligence and 
study he came to understand the Quiche language better than anyone else and that not wishing to 
hide the talent, which God gave to him, he wrote "three volumes in folio, entitied Tesoro de las 
Lenguas Cacchiquel, Quiche, y Tzutuhil, which are very similar." 

In the Tesoro de las Lenguas, Ximenez made a profound study of the structure of the Quiche 
language, of which he gives an exposition according to the method followed in Latin grammars, 
accompanied by a vocabulary which contains the roots of the words of the three languages. 
Brasseur de Bourbourg made good use of this valuable material in writing his Grammaire de la 
Langue Quichee (Paris, 1862),which contains the chapters written by Ximenez and some 
explanations in French that the Abbe included to aid the readers who were not versed in the 
Spanish language to understand the text better. 

Bound in the same volume with the Arte de las tres lenguas is a Confesionario and a Catecismo 
de Indios, also in the three languages, works of short length; and finally, in a volume consisting of 
112 pages, written in two parallel columns with remarkable neatness and care, is the copy of the 
Manuscript of Chichicastenango written by Ximenez following the original text, accompanied by 
his first translation of it into Spanish. This valuable document has the following title: Empiezan 
las historias del origen de los Indios de esta provincia de Guatemala, traduzido de la lengua 
quiche en la castellana para mas comodidad de los Ministros del Sto. Evangelio, por el R. P. F. 
Franzisco Ximenez, Cura doctrinero por el Real Patronato del Pueblo de Sto. Thomas Chuild. In 
the opinion of Brasseur de Bourbourg, this manuscript may be considered the original of the 
Popol Vuh. 

This, in effect, is the only old copy, known to have survived, of the Quiche manuscript composed 
by an unknown author about the middle of the sixteenth century. This translation is the first one 
which Ximenez made, and it was also the first one to be published, when it was printed in Vienna, 
in 1857, under the auspices of the imperial Academy of Sciences. 

This document is followed by the Escolios a las Historias de el Origen de los Indios, escoliadas 
por el R. P. F. Franzisco, Ximenez, Cura Doctrinero por el Real Patronato del Pueblo de Sto. 
Thomas Chichicastenango, del Sagrado Orden de Predicadores, etc. These scholia consist only 
of a foreword and a chapter, and it seems that the author did not write more in this place. The 
material which they contain was used, in part, in the first book of his Historia de la Provincia, 

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where the author continues his commentaries and writes in detail of the origin of the Quiche 
kingdom and the customs and ancient beliefs of its inhabitants. 

The Historia by Father Ximenez consisted of three volumes which were jealously guarded in the 
Convent of Santo Domingo in Guatemala, and which for more than one hundred years remained 
unknown. The anonymous author of the Isagoge Historica, written in the eighteenth century, 
mentions Ximenez as the discoverer and translator of the Manuscript of Chichicastenango, but the 
Isagoge itself was not published until 1892. The original manuscript of the Historia of Ximenez, 
which was lost for many years, still is preserved, although incomplete, in Guatemala. The first 
volume appeared in the library of Don Jose Cecilio del Valle, one of the fathers of the 
independence of Central America, and this first volume is today in the possession of his 
descendants in Guatemala City. This volume, as has been said, contains the first two books of the 
Chronicle of Ximenez and begins with the revised translation of the Historias del origen de los 
Indios. The third volume, containing Books VI and VII of the Historia, is preserved at the 
Government Archives of Guatemala. 

At the end of the eighteenth century, Don Ramon de Ordonez y Aguiar, canon of Chiapas, and 
author of the Historia de la Creadon del Cielo y de la Tierra, which remained unpublished until 
1907, was living in Guatemala. In the foreword to this work, Ordonez y Aguiar says that he had 
found a valuable book written by Father Francisco Ximenez, who, as a result of his teachings, had 
discovered it among the Indians of the Quiche nation, and translated it literally, including its 
contents "in the first of the four volumes which, under the title of Historia de la Provincia de San 
Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala he composed and in manuscript form are preserved in the library 
of his convent of Preaching Fathers of this capital." The text of the quotations from Ordonez y 
Aguiar and the pages from which he says he has taken some sections which he included in his 
work show, however, that he did not consult the original of the Historia, but the copy which was 
kept in the Convent of Santo Domingo until 1830, when it was placed in the library of the 
University of Guatemala. 

In his Historia de la Creadon, Ordonez y Aguiar reproduced the second version of the Historias 
del Quiche, taking it, as he himself says, from the first volume of the Historia de la Provincia de 
San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala. This transcription is sometimes literal, sometimes hardly 
more than an extract, and sometimes it seems to have been noticeably corrected and is different 
from the original. In the episode of Vucub-Caquix, Ordonez y Aguiar departs from the simple 
language of Ximenez and writes a paraphrase in the style of Cervantes, which reveals his gifts of 
imagination and literary position, but which is very far from the simplicity and ingenuity of the 
original Quiche, with which the Canon of Chiapas evidently was not familiar. 

Brasseur de Bourbourg says that around the middle of the nineteenth century the curator of the 
National Museum of Mexico, Don Rafael Isidoro Gondra, gave him a draft of the first volume of 
the work of Ordonez y Aguiar, which contains the larger part of the translation made by Father 
Ximenez of the Manuscript of Chichicastenango, published in 1851. 

The Viennese doctor, Carl Scherzer, visited Central America In 1853 and 1854. He was in 
Guatemala for six months and had occasion to visit the library of the University, where he found 
the volumes of the works of Ximenez kept there after the expulsion of the friars and the closing of 

Page 11 of 196 

the convents in 1829. In the Memoria which he sent to the Imperial Academy of Sciences at 
Vienna in 1856, Scherzer claims the honor of having been the first to have called the attention of 
the educated world to the writings of Ximenez and to have been, in part, responsible for their 

Scherzer found only the third volume of the Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y 
Guatemala in the University library in 1854, and although he searched elsewhere for the 
remaining three volumes of that work, all his efforts were in vain. On the other hand, he found in 
the library a vocabulary of the Quiche and Cakchiquel languages and the volume which contains 
the Arte de las tres lenguas, a Confesionario, a Catecismo de Indios, and the Historias del origen 
de los Indios de esta provincia de Guatemala, traducidas de la lengua Quiche a la Castellana. 
This last treatise is the one which was first published by Scherzer in 1857. The text of the Vienna 
edition agrees, in general, with the Ximenez manuscript; but it contains many errors, due in part 
to the foreign printer and also In part to the inaccuracy of the copyist who made the transcription 
which Scherzer used, and who evidently was not familiar with the ancient writing. Only the first 
chapter of the Escolios, which formed the appendix of the book, appears in the manuscript of the 
Historias. Scherzer says that he completed them by means of a copy, "taken from the original," 
which was given to him by Don Juan Gavarrete. 

The same Sefior Gavarrete who had collaborated in the preparation of the Vienna edition had the 
opportunity years later to make known the opinion he had formed of it, and said that "it is very 
incorrect because of the little ability of those who copied it and the printers in the Spanish 
language." Gavarrete added this comment, which since has been repeated by other historians: 
"We shall note, in passing, that the publication of this book has changed the whole course of the 
historical studies which are now being made about Central America." 

Scherzer's reports about the culture and traditions of the Quiche Indians gave rise to many 
discussions in European Journals, which at that period were first concerning themselves with 
these matters. The German weekly Das Ausland in its edition of July 6, 1855, published an 
interesting article on "the pre-Columbian history of Guatemala," in which it gave an analysis of 
the content of the Historias del origen de los Indios, which Scherzer had found and proposed to 
publish. The Americanist editor, Nicolaus Triibner, reproduced, in part, the German writer's 
analysis, and discussed the question of priority in bibliographical data relative to Father Ximenez 
in an extensive article entitled "Central American Archaeology" published in the London 
Athenaeum of May 31, 1856. 

Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, the well-known French Americanist, arrived in 
Guatemala in 1855. Following the footsteps of Scherzer, he traveled through the Central 
American countries, and, like Scherzer, he also became interested in the ancient history of the 
country. Previously in Mexico he had made important historical and linguistic studies and had 
copied many old manuscripts. In Guatemala he found a fertile field for his investigations. Dr. 
Mariano Padilla and Don Juan Gavarrete, who had assisted Scherzer, extended their generosity to 
Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg to the extent of giving him many documents from the collection of 
the former as well as from the public archives of which the latter was in charge. Others were 
given to him by Don Francisco Garcia Pelaez, the archbishop of Guatemala, who was likewise 
devoted to this kind of study. The Archbishop also entrusted him with the administration of the 

Page 12 of 196 

parish of Rabinal, where the French traveler learned the Quiche language, and, as he confesses, 
spent the most agreeable year of his stay in Central America. In this important center of 
indigenous population, Brasseur de Bourbourg translated into French the Manuscript of 
Chichicastenango, which he had so easily obtained together with the Spanish translation of 
Ximenez. Speaking of his stay in Rabinal, Brasseur de Bourbourg says: 

"This village contains around 7,000 Indians who speak the Quiche language, and with them I 
prepared myself not only to speak and write it, but even to translate the most difficult documents, 
among them the manuscript which Father Ximenez found at Santo Tomas Chichicastenango, and 
which is so important for [the study of] American origins and in particular for the history of 

Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg also had charge, although for a short time only, of the parish of San 
Juan Sacatepequez, where he perfected himself in the Cakchiquel language, in order to be able to 
translate the Memorial Cakchiquel de Solold, which he called the Memorial de Tecpan-Atitlan, a 
valuable Indian document which had belonged to the convent of the Franciscans and which "a 
young and zealous Guatemalan archaeologist, Dr. Juan Gavarrete, one of the notaries of the 
ecclesiastical court" gave to him. On a second voyage to Guatemala, Brasseur de Bourbourg 
traveled through other parts of the country and added new and important acquisitions to his 
collection of historical documents, the richest and most valuable which had been assembled in the 
country by a single individual up to that time. These documents the French Abbe used in writing 
on the ancient history of Guatemala and Mexico, and on the Indian languages. 

The best known of Brasseur de Bourbourg's works is that published in Paris in 1861 under the 
title of Popol Vuh, Le Livre Sacre et les mythes de I'antiquite americaine. This volume, which 
immediately attracted great attention in both Europe and America, contains the Quiche text of the 
Manuscript of Chichicastenango and the translation into French of this document, accompanied 
by philological notes and an extensive commentary. In the foreword, the author says that in 1855 
he saw in the library of the University of Guatemala two copies of the Historia de la Provincia de 
Predicadores de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala and that this work, which had remained in 
manuscript, "consisted of four volumes in folio and of it there were two copies, which were 
transferred from the archives of this monastery to the library of the University at the time that the 
religious houses were suppressed under Morazan, in 1830. Both copies were incomplete when we 
saw them in 1855, and only three volumes existed which did not even agree among themselves. . . 
the first volume which we had occasion to consult began with the text and the translation of the 
Quiche manuscript, which is the subject of this book. From there, we copied it for the first time, 
adding the original." 

Scherzer had not been able to see the first volume of Ximenez' Historia in 18 54, and for this 
reason he did not know the version of the Popol Vuh which appears at the beginning of that work. 
The text published by him was copied, as has already been explained, from the manuscript of the 
Historias del origen de los Indios, which is bound together in the same volume with the Arte de 
las tres lenguas. Scherzer examined this volume in the University library, and in the foreword to 
the Vienna edition gives a thorough description of the documents which it contains. The same 
manuscript appeared a. little later in the possession of the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, who says 
in the foreword to Le Livre Sacre that he obtained it in Rabinal, and in Bibliotheque Mexico- 
Page 13 of 196 

Guatemalienne he says that in former times it belonged to Ignacio Coloche, a noble Indian of 
Rabinal, from whom he got it. It is a little difficult to understand how, between 1854 and 1855, 
this manuscript could pass from the shelves of the University library of Guatemala City into the 
hands of the noble Indian of Rabinal, and subsequently to those of Brasseur de Bourbourg. 

The wording of the paragraph quoted above from Brasseur de Bourbourg is very confusing; but it 
is certain that the volume which he says he had occasion to consult in the University library, 
which begins with the text and the translation of the Quiche manuscript and which he copied 
"adding the original," was not the first volume of the Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de 
Chiapa y Guatemala, for that does not contain the Quiche text. Brasseur de Bourbourg copied the 
original text and the first translation by Ximenez from the treatise entitled Empiezan las historias 
del origen de los Indios de esta provincia de Guatemala, inserted at the end of the Arte de las tres 
lenguas. The Quiche text and the Spanish version appear on alternate pages in Brasseur de 
Bourbourg' s copy, made up of 124 folios, which is kept in the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris 
and which is followed by a second copy of the Arte de las tres lenguas. This proves that the 
volumes of the Arte and of the Historias de los Indios were still in the library of the University in 
1855. Probably the traveling investigator obtained them there with the same ease with which the 
other manuscripts of his celebrated collection of Americana came into his hands. 

Brasseur de Bourbourg did not read the Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y 
Guatemala, and he mentions only the few passages which Archbishop Garcia Pelaez gives in his 
work, Memorias para la historia del antiguo reino de Guatemala. The only part of the Historia 
that appears among the documents in the Bibliotheque Mexico-Guatemalienne (catalog of the 
Brasseur de Bourbourg collection) is the first thirty-six chapters of the first book copied by Don 
Juan Gavarrete "in Guatemala, October 23, 1847." This copy, containing fifty-four folios, 
includes the translation of the Quiche manuscript and the "history of the ancient Quiche 
Kingdom," which form Chapters 27 to 36 of Book I of the Ximenez Historia. 

In regard to the other works of Father Ximenez, Brasseur de Bourbourg, as has already been 
noted, used the Tesoro of the three languages freely, not only to interpret the documents of the 
Quiche Indians, but also to compose his Grammaire Quichee, which was printed in Paris in 1862. 
He likewise used and commented extensively upon the Manuscript of Chichicastenango in his 
work entitled Histoire des Nations Civilisees du Mexique et de I'Amerique Centrale (1857) and in 
his Quatre Lettres sur le Mexique (1868). 

The publication of the Popol Vuh (1861) and of the other works just mentioned aroused the 
interest of the scientific world and opened the way for additional works on the mythology and the 
pre-Columbian history of Guatemala, most important of which are those by Bancroft, Brinton, 
Charencey, Chavero, Miiller, Raynaud, Seler, Spence, and Genet. 

After Brasseur de Bourbourg's death his collection of manuscripts and printed books was 
scattered. The largest part was acquired by Alphonse Pinart. Daniel G. Brinton bought the original 
manuscript of the Memorial de Tecpdn-Atitldn, which he published in 1885 under the title, The 
Annals of the Chakchiquels, and other documents relating to the languages of Guatemala, which 
after his death passed to the library of the museum of the University of Pennsylvania. Bancroft 
bought another part of the collection which is now in the library of manuscripts which bears his 

Page 14 of 196 

name at the University of California in Berkeley. When Pinart's collection was put on sale in 
1884, the largest part of it remained in France at the Bibliotheque Nationale. Another part was 
acquired by Count H. de Charencey, and upon the death of this distinguished Americanist his 
widow presented his collection to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. 

The German translator of the Popol Vuh, Noah Elieser Pohorilles, says that Otto Stoll had told 
him that at various times Pinart had offered him "the original manuscript of the Popol Vuh" for 
the sum of ten thousand francs. This manuscript, as was said above, was acquired by Edward E. 
Ayer, together with other documents of Brasseur de Bourbourg's collection, and is now in the 
Newberry Library in Chicago. Finally, William Gates obtained some documents which had 
belonged to Brasseur de Bourbourg and included them in his valuable historical and philological 
collection, composed of original documents and photographic copies of almost all the known 
existing manuscripts in the libraries previously mentioned. 

Don Juan Gavarrete, "the man most sincerely inspired by love for the ancient history of the 
country," according to the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, undertook the arduous task of 
transcribing the old volumes of the Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y 
Guatemala which were in the Convent of Santo Domingo and which, in 1830, were placed in the 
library of the University. According to Gavarrete' s statement in the introduction of the version of 
the Popol Vuh published in the Guatemalan magazine La Sociedad Economica (1872-73), the first 
copy of this document, which was taken from Book I of the Historia by Ximenez, was the one 
which that paleographist "wrote in his hand in the library of the University in 1845." Another 
transcription "faithfully copied by Don Juan Gavarrete' in Guatemala, October 23, 1847, was, as 
has been noted, in the collection of Brasseur de Bourbourg, and in addition to the translation of 
the Popol Vuh also contained Chapters 27 to 36 of Book I of the Historia de la Provincia with the 
title Historia del antiguo Reino de Quiche, written by "Father Fray Francisco Ximenez." Brasseur 
de Bourbourg observes that "this document is a copy taken from the Historia General de 
Guatemala by Father Ximenez which was in manuscript in the library of the University of that 
City," and adds that this same copy is the original which Scherzer used for the Vienna edition. 
Nevertheless, this statement is correct only so far as it concerns Chapters 27 to 35 and the 
beginning of Chapter 36, which were included by Gavarrete in the Escolios a las Historias de el 
Origen de los Indios, printed at the end of the Historias in 1857. The text of the Historias, which 
forms the first part of the Vienna edition, was taken from the Arte de las tres lenguas. 

The transcription of Father Ximenez' Historia which Gavarrete made contains six volumes 
totaling about 2,200 pages in folio, and is preserved in the National Library of Guatemala. 

Brasseur de Bourbourg speaks of two and even three copies of the Historia by Ximenez. An 
article about Francisco Jimenez in the Diccionario Enciclopedico Hispano-Americano states that 
"in the Provincial Library of Cordoba in Spain, there must be another incomplete copy" of this 
work. Ramon A. Salazar, who for several years was director of the National Library of 
Guatemala, says in a work published in 1897 that there are in the library two copies of the 
Historia by Ximenez; the modern one copied under the direction of Don Juan Gavarrete, and 
another "old and faded, although legible, with difficulty, which was the one taken from the 
Convent of Santo Domingo and placed in the library of the University in 1830, at the time of the 
expulsion of the friars." This copy has now disappeared from the National Library, and it is likely 

Page 15 of 196 

that it is the same one that Walter Lehmann obtained in Guatemala and took to Germany in 1909, 
and which the Duke of Loubat gave to the Royal Library of Berlin. The Newberry Library has 
photographic copies of 183 pages of one part of the Berlin manuscript, which is entitled Historia 
de la Provincia de Predicadores de Chiapay Guatemala. 

5. The Translations of the Popol Vuh 

In a convincing argument in favor of the authenticity of the Popol Vuh, Lewis Spence declares: 
"The very fact that it was composed in the Quiche tongue is almost sufficient proof of its genuine 
American character. The scholarship of the nineteenth century was unequal to the adequate 
translation of the Popol Vuh; the twentieth century has as yet shown no signs of being able to 
accomplish the task. It is therefore not difficult to credit that if modern scholarship is unable to 
properly translate the work, that of the eighteenth century was unable to create it." 

Despite his undeniable and profound knowledge of the Quiche language, Father Francisco 
Ximenez by himself alone would not have been able to compose the Manuscript of 
Chichicastenango, the most notable literary expression of native American genius. On the other 
hand, this distinguished historian and linguist does not claim other than the title of discoverer of 
the Indian document. Defects, unfortunately, appear in his two versions of this work which have 
come down to us; these defects reveal that sometimes Ximenez was not able to perceive the 
meaning of the text, showing that the thought and phraseology of the ancient Quiche frequently 
escape comprehension even by those Europeans best qualified to interpret it. 

The two principal translations which have been made, both in Spanish and in French, of the 
Quiche document are well known. The first, as has been said, is the work of Father Ximenez, who 
translated, verbatim, the histories of the Indians into the Spanish language from the Quiche, in 
which they had been written from the time of the Conquest. This first is a literal translation, 
closely following the phraseology of the original text. In it the translator not only wanted to give 
the meaning of the words, but many times tried to preserve the Quiche syntax, dropping the 
Spanish syntax and thus confusing the very meaning which he was trying to interpret. From the 
beginning of Ximenez' translation, one finds the passive form of the verbs preceding the 
possessive, which imitates the morphology of the original Quiche language, but which lacks 
meaning in Spanish. When Ximenez translates "his being declared and manifested," "his being 
related," and "his being said," or "his being formed," he reveals the peculiar forms of the Quiche 
construction, but he makes it impossible to understand the document, until the reader familiarizes 
himself with those forms and converts them into the corresponding substantives: "the declaration 
the manifestation," "the relation," "the formation," and so on. 

It must be noted here that these passive forms gradually disappear in the course of the translation 
and the style becomes easier and more natural. 

In other places the translator, in an exaggerated effort to be faithful to the original, retains the 
metaphorical expressions of the Quiche text without giving the Spanish equivalents. For example 
when Hun-Ahpu and Xbalanque decide to get rid of their envious brothers, Hun Batz and Hun 
Chouen, the translator has them say, "We will only change their stomachs into other things," 

Page 16 of 196 

using a metaphor which could be interpreted by saying that they would change only their figure, 
as in effect they did, transforming them into monkeys. In this same passage the sense is very 
obscure, because Ximenez limits himself to translating, word for word, the extremely abbreviated 
sentences of the original Quiche without developing them more extensively, as they require in 
Spanish. These examples are cited in order to give an idea of the difficulties which, in general, the 
reader of the first version of the Popol Vuh will find. 

Ximenez' translation with all its defects represents a work of infinite patience, which must have 
taken a long time, years perhaps, of the life of the translator. The first version may be read in the 
right column of the manuscript of the Historias de los Indios, and is the same which Carl Scherzer 
published in Vienna in 1857, with numerous errata. The copyist who made the transcript which 
the editor used did not know how to interpret some of the abbreviations which Ximenez 
employed; he read parts of the manuscript wrong, omitted words and even whole sentences, and 
confused many of the proper names and common Quiche words. Some of these errors are 
undoubtedly those of the Guatemalan copyist; but he is not altogether to blame, and it must be 
supposed that the Vienna printer made some of the errors which are found in that edition, which, 
however, in general is a very good one. 

The first translation appears to have been made during the time in which Ximenez administered 
the parish of Santo Tomas. On the title page of the Historias de los Indios one reads that the 
translator was the priest who taught the Christian doctrine by royal appointment in the town of 
Santo Tomas Chuila, today Santo Tomas Chichicastenango. Years later, on undertaking his longer 
work, the Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala, Ximenez revised his 
first translation of the Indian document, deleting many repetitions which are peculiar to the 
Quiche language, divided the account into chapters, and made it in general easier to read, 
although less true to the original text, in this condensed translation some of the redundancies of 
the first draft have disappeared, but some of the concepts and words and, at times, even entire 
paragraphs have been omitted. It must be taken into account, however, that this second version is 
known only through the transcription made by Senor Gavarrete, a transcription which served for 
the edition of the work printed in Guatemala in 1929. It is to be hoped that the authentic text of 
this second version of Ximenez will be published as it is found in the original manuscript which is 
preserved in Guatemala. The numerous errors and omissions, the defective spelling, and other 
faults which, unfortunately, fill the 1929 edition, must be attributed to its successive 
transcriptions, since Gavarrete himself said, as early as 1872, that his was not a direct copy of the 
original, but of another copy made carelessly and with many imperfections. This copy must have 
been very old, because the errors and omissions which it contains are also observed in the 
chapters which Ordonez y Aguiar inserted at the end of the eighteenth century in his Historia de 
la Creadon del Cielo y de la Tierra. 

Luckily, the manuscript of the first version having been preserved together with the original copy 
of the Quiche, it is still possible to appreciate the translation in its primitive form, without the 
errors which mar the two printings of 1857 and 1929 respectively. 

Despite its defects, this translation is a work of great merit and inestimable value. Our 
linguistically-minded friar knew the Quiche language of the sixteenth century better than any 
other of the modern translators and commentators, and at the same time he knew the mentality of 

Page 17 of 196 

the Indians of that race. For this reason the Spanish translator almost always kept his text at the 
same intellectual level as that of the Quiche narrator, without elevating himself to spheres foreign 
to pre-Columbian American culture, and without letting himself be carried away by fantasy, as 
has occurred in the case of the first French translator. 

In 1855 the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg found in Guatemala the manuscript of the Historias de 
los Indios which contained the original transcription of the Quiche text and the first Spanish 
translation of it made by Father Ximenez. Sent to the parish of Rabinal by Archbishop Garcia 
Pelaez, who, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg, wanted to further his archaeological 
investigations and his studies of the Indian languages, the famous French traveler moved to that 
Quiche center, learned how to read and write the language of the people, and prepared himself 
sufficiently to undertake the translation of the Quiche book, according to what he says in the 
foreword to his Histoire des Nations Civilisees du Mexique et de I'Amerique Centrale. 

In this way Brasseur de Bourbourg had the opportunity to learn the dialect spoken at Rabinal and 
to consult the Indians of that town on the difficult passages of the Popol Vuh. Furthermore, during 
his trips to Central America, he acquired a valuable collection of grammars and old vocabularies 
of the Indian languages which were most useful to him in his interpretation of the Guatemalan 
documents. The Quiche Vocabulario of Fray Domingo Basseta which is in the Bibliotheque 
Nationale at Paris is full of Brasseur de Bourbourg' s annotations, which show the constant use 
which he made of it in his work of translation. 

In 1861 the Popol Vuh, Le Livre Sacre, which contains the Quiche text of the Manuscript of 
Chichicastenango, was published in Paris, divided into chapters and phoneticized according to 
Brasseur de Bourbourg' s ideas, in order to facilitate its reading by the people of his country. 
According to these ideas, the Abbe introduced the letter "k" which does not exist in the original, 
and substituted it for the "c" and the "q" which Ximenez used in transcribing the Quiche 
manuscript. On the other hand, he kept the "v" which was used in the Colonial Period to represent 
the sound of "u" as in the words varal, vinac, etc. 

The Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg' s version of the Popol Vuh is a notable work in which he tried 
to interpret, with the precision and elegance of the French language, the ancient and simple 
thought of the Quiche race. As he himself says, this translation is based on the Spanish of 
Ximenez and supplemented with the parts which the Dominican friar omitted. In general, the 
Abbe interpreted the Quiche manuscript correctiy, although there are many errors which he 
committed in his translation, despite the evident care that he took. His version, however, shows 
one major defect. Despite having lived some time among the American Indians, the Abbe never 
succeeded in understanding their primitive mentality, and he attributed to them ideas and thoughts 
as elevated as those of the peoples of the Old World, the heirs of a classical culture of many 

The German writer Noah Elieser Pohorilles published a version of the Popol Vuh in Leipzig in 
1913 under the title of Das Popol Wuh. Die mytische Geschichte des Kice-Volkes von Guatemala 
nach dem Original Texte ubersetzt und bearbeitet. In general, the German translator follows 
Brasseur de Bourbourg in interpreting the Quiche document, despite the fact that in the title of his 
work he says that it is a translation from the original text. In a study on the "Significance of the 

Page 18 of 196 

Myths of the Popol Vuh," Eduard Seler indicates that he does not consider that the Pohorilles 
translation had improved that of Brasseur de Bourbourg, rather the contrary. 

Professor Georges Raynaud of the Sorbonne spent many years studying the Indian manuscripts of 
the Americas, and in Paris in 1925, he published a new version of the Popol Vuh, under the title 
of Les dieux, les hews et les hommes de I'ancien Guatemala d'apres le Livre du Conseil. A 
Spanish translation of this work was published in 1927. 

Finally there should be mentioned the version of Licenciado J. Antonio Villacorta and Don Flavio 
Rodas N. contained in a volume entitled Manuscrito de Chichicastenango (Popol Buj). Estudio 
sobre las antiguas tradiciones del Pueblo Quiche. Texto indigena fonetizado y traducido al 
Castellano. Notas etimologicas, etc. (Guatemala, 1927). This is the first modern translation to be 
published in Guatemala. In the preface of the work one reads that the authors undertook the 
translation because a faithful version of the Manuscript had not yet been made. Senor Rodas, well 
versed in the modern Quiche language, took the text transcribed by Brasseur de Bourbourg and 
phoneticized it according to Spanish spelling "In order that the Indians and other people who 
speak the language could read it." The Quiche text appears in this form accompanied by a Spanish 
translation. Studies on the Quiche, the Maya, and the Tolteca, the calendar, and the pre- 
Columbian manuscripts precede the translation, and at the end there are several pages of notes and 

A well-known Austrian Investigator, Rudolph Schuller, left an English translation of the Quiche 
book, according to Dr. Samuel K. Lothrop's report in his archaeological study on the region of 
Lake Atitlan (Carnegie Institution of Washington, September, 1933). Lothrop adds that he himself 
also has prepared a translation of the same document. 

In his book An introduction to Mythology, Lewis Spence says: 

"There is an abridgment in English by the present writer. An English translation of the whole 
appeared in an American magazine entitled The Word during 1906 and 1907, from the pen of Dr. 
Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, but whether from the Spanish, or original Kiche, I do not know. It is, 
moreover, couched in Scriptural language, and such treatment assists the vulgar error that the 
Popol Vuh is merely a native travesty of portions of the Old Testament." 

Dr. Guthrie states that his translation was made independently, "but some felicitous terms have 
been added" from another translation from the first book of the Popol Vuh by James Pryse, which 
appeared in Lucifer in 1894-95. 

A new German translation by Leonhard Schultze Jena was published in Stuttgart in 1944, together 
with the original text as transcribed by Ximenez, under the title of Popol Vuh. Das heiliges Buch 
der Quiche Indianer von Guatemala. 

The Ayer Collection in the Newberry Libra of Chicago has an unpublished English translation of 
the Popol Vuh made by Colonel Beebe. It is a manuscript of 264 pages, apparently based on the 
French translation of Brasseur de Bourbourg. 

Page 19 of 196 

The legends of the Popol Vuh have been used by some modern writers in the composition of 
stories and narratives for children, as one can see in the collection of Krickeberg and in the Tales 
from Silver Lands by Charles Finger. Isolated passages of the Popol Vuh have been dramatized 
many times. And the German writer, Oswald Claassen, using the same episodes, composed a long 
poem, entitled Die Ahnen des Mondes, and Das Gefass des Schicksals, inspired by the translation 
of Pohorilles. 

In this way modern authors have justified the opinion, somewhat ironical, that Ximenez expressed 
when he wrote, "I well know that all these histories are children's stories," although this opinion 
certainly did not deter the austere friar from dedicating much of the time which his ecclesiastical 
duties left free, to transcribing and translating them Into Spanish and commenting upon them. 

In his study on the Indian authors and their works (Aboriginal American Authors and Their 
Productions), Brinton comments on the narrative of the mythology and traditional history of the 
Quiche, and the translations of Ximenez and Brasseur de Bourbourg, and declares that neither of 
these translations is satisfactory. According to Brinton, Ximenez wrote with all the prejudices of a 
Spanish monk, and Brasseur de Bourbourg was an euhemerist of the most advanced type, who 
saw in every myth the expression of a historical fact. And adds "there is need for a re-translation 
of all the work, with critical linguistic notes attached." Other critics have seconded this eminent 
Americanist in his observation. Since the time he wrote, new translations have been published 
which have clarified some of the obscure parts of the Quiche book, but the field is very wide and 
the subject is always new and attractive. 

It is fair to devote a final word to the Quiche language in which this book is written. Father 
Ximenez, who translated it for the first time into Spanish at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, maintains that the Quiche language is the principal one in all the world. Without entirely 
sharing the enthusiastic opinion of the venerable historian and eminent linguist, I must observe 
that only a highly developed language, possessed of a rich vocabulary and a highly flexible syntax 
which lends itself to clarity and elegance of style and fluency in narration, could serve as an 
instrument for composing this work, which has the interest and beauty of a novel and the austerity 
of history, and which paints in brightest colors the life and thoughts of a great people. 

Page 20 of 196 


Compiled by Lucille Kaufman Weil 

ACCENTS: According to Brasseur de Bourbourg, accents, unless indicated, vary in different 
population groups. Corruptions and variations have made impossible any definite rules. 
Example: Abah (stone) may be alternately pronounced abah and abah'. 

Acab, Ah kahb 

Achac-Iboy, Ahtchak-Eeboy 

Acul-Vinac, Ahkool-Weenock 

Ahalcand, Ahahl kahnah' 

Ahalmez, Ahahl mess 

Ahalpuh, Ahahl poo 

Ahaltocob, Ahahl taw kawb 

Ahau, Ah how 

Ahpop-Achih, Ah pawp ah tehee 

Ahpop-Camhd, Ah pawp-Kahm hah' 

Ahpoxa, Ah pawsha 

Ahpozotzil, Ah paw sawt seel 

A Raxd Lac, Ah Rahshah' Lock 

A Raxd Tzel, Ah Rahsha' Tsail 

A Tohil, Ah Taw heel 

Ahtzic-Vinac, Aht seek-Weenock 

Alom, Ah lawm. 

Amac-Tan, Ah mahk-Tahn 

Amac-Uquincat, Ah mahk-Ookeen kaht 

Page 21 of 196 

Anonas, Ah naw nahss 
Avilix, Ah wee leesh 

Balam-Colob, Bah lahm-Kawlawb 
Balami-ha, Bah lahmee-hah 
Balam-Quitze, Bah lahm-Keetsay' 
Batenabd, Bah tayn-Ah bah' 
Beleheb Queh, Bay lay hayb-Kay 
Beleheb Tzi, Bay lay hayb Tsee 
Bitol, Bee tawl 

Cabauil-Pom, Kahbah weel-Pawm 

Cabracdn, Kahbrah kahn' 

Cacao, Kah kow 

Caculhd Huracdn, Kahkoolhah' Hoorah kahn' 

Caglacdn, Kah glah kahn' 

Cahd-Paluna, Kahah'-Pah loonah 

Cakchiquel, Kock chee kayl 

Camalotz, Kah mah lawts 

Camazotz, Kah mah sawts 

Camucu, Kahmoo koo' 

Canchahel, Kahn tcha hayl 

Cante, Kahn tay' 

Page 22 of 196 

Candles, Kahn tee layss 

Caoque, Kow kay' 

Caquixahd, Kah keesh ahah' 

Caquix-Tucur, Kah keesh Tookoor 

Carinimac, Kahree nee mock 

Cauutepech, Kow ootay paytch 

Cavec, Kah wayk 

Cavinal, Kah wee nahl 

Cavixtdn-Pom, Kah weesh tahn'-Pawm 

Cavizimah, Kah weesee mah 

Caxcon, Kahsh kawn 

Cay aid, Kah yah lah' 

Cazam Ah Chatam, Kahsahm Ah Tchahtahm 

Chabicac, Tchabee kahk 

Chabi-Tucur, Tchabee-Tookoor 

Chahal, Tcha hahl 

Chamalacdn, Tcha mahlah kahn' 

Chamiabac, Tchahmee ahbahk 

Chamiaholom, Tchahmee ahawlawm 

Chayim-hd, Tchahyeem-hah' 

Chicha, Tehee tchah 

Chigag, Tehee gahg 

Chihac, Tehee hock 

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Chi-Izmachi, Tehee Eesmah tehee' 

Chilipan, Tehee lee pahn 

Chimalmat, Tehee mahl maht 

Chipi-Caculhd, Tcheepee Kabkoolbah' 

Chi-Pixab, Tchee-Peeshahb 

Chi-Quix, Tchee-Keesh 

Chiracdn Xmucane, Tehee rah kahn' Shmoo kahnay' 

Chi-Temah, Tchee-Taymah 

Chitic, Tehee teek 

Chituy, Tehee tooy 

Chomihd, Tchaw meehah' 

Chouen, Tchoh ayn' 

Chuganal, Tchoo gahnahl 

Chulimal, Tchoo lee mahl 

Chumilahd, Tchoo mee lahah' 

Chuva-Tzac, Tchoo wah-Tsahk 

Chuvild, Tchoo weelah' 

Chuvi-Miquind, Tchoowee Meekeenah' 

Coati, Kwahtee 

Cocamel, Kaw kah mayl 

Cocozom, Kaw kaw sawm 

Cohah, Kaw hah 

Colche, Kawl tchay' 

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Comahcun, Kaw mah koon' 
Conache, Kaw nah tchay' 
Cotuhd, Kaw too hah' 
Cotzbalam, Kawts bahlahm 
Coyabacoh, Kaw yah bah kaw 
Cuchumaquic, Kootchoo mah-keek 
Culbd, Kool bah' 
Cumatz, Koo mots 
Cux, Koosh 
Cuzivdn, Koo see wahn' 

Donadiu, Daw nahd yoo' 

Ec, Ayk 

Euabal-Zwdn, Ay wah bahl-Swan' 

Gagchequeleb, Gahg tchay kay layb 
Gag Quicab, Gahg Keekahb 
Gale, Gahlay 

Galel-Ahau, Gahlayl-Ahow 
Galel Zaquic, Gahlayl Sahkeek 
Gucumatz, Gookoo mots 
Gumarcaah, Goomar kah ah 

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Hacavitz, Hahkah weets 
Hoh, Haw 

Holom-Ocox, Hawlawm-Awkawsh 
Holom-Tucur, Hawlawm-Tookoor 
Huliznab, Hoo lees nahb 
Humetahd, Hoo may taha' 
Hunahpu-Utiu, Hoo nahpoo'-Ootee oo' 
Hunahpu-Vuch, Hoo nahpoo'-Wootch 
Hunbatz, Hoon bahts 
Hun-Came', Hoon-Kah may' 
Hunchouen, Hoon tchoo ayn' 
Huntoh, Hoon toh 
Huracdn, Hoo rah kahn' 

Jocotes, Haw kaw tays 

Lamaq, Lah mock 

Lolmet-Quehnay, Lawl mayt-Kay nye 

Lotzquic, Lawts keek 

Macd, Mah kah' 
Macamob, Mah kah mawb 

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Mahucutah, Mahoo koo tah 
Matasanos, Mah tah sahnos 
Meagudn, May ah gwahn' 
Miquind, Mee keenah' 
Mixtdn-Pom, Meesh tahn'-Pawm 
Molay, Maw lay 
Motz, Mawts 

Nacxit, Nock sheet 

Nanauac, Nah nah wock 

Nantze, Nahn tsay 

Nicahtacah, Neekah tahkah 

Nihaib, Neehah eeb 

Nim-Ac, Neem Ahk 

Nima-Tziis, Neemah Tsees 

Nimhaib, Nimhah eeb 

Nim-Xob-Carchah, Neem-Shahb-Kahr tchah 

Nuzivdn cul, Noo see vahn' kool 

Olomdn, Awlaw mahn' 
Oxib-Queh, Awsheeb-Kay 

Pacam, Pah kahm 

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Pahac, Pah hock 
Pamacd, Pah mah kah' 
Patdn, Pah tahn' 
Pataxte, Pah tash tay 
Patohil, Pahtoh heel 
Paxil, Pah sheel 
Pazilizib, Pahsee leeseeb 
Pecul, Pay kool 
Pericon, Payree kawn' 
Petatayub, Paytahtah yoob 
Pizom-Gagal, Peesawm-Gahgahl 
Popol Vuh, Pawpull-Woo 
Puchbal chah, Pooch bahl tchah 
Puhuyu, Poohoo yoo' 

Qaholom, Kah hawlawm 
Qoacul, Kawah kool 
Qoacutec, Kawah kootayk 
Qoahau, Kaw ahow 
Qocaib, Kaw kaheeb 
Qocavib, Kaw kah weeb 
Queemd, Kay mah' 
Quehnay, Keh nigh' 

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Queletzu, Keh leh tsoo' 
Quenech, Keh netch 
Quequma-ha, Kehk mah-hah 
Quibahd, Kee bah hah' 
Quicab, Kee kahb 
Quiche, Kee tchay' 
Quicre, Kee kray' 
Quicrixcac, Kee kreesh kock 
Quicxic, Keek sheek 
Quilitz, Kee leets 
Quitze, Keet say' 
Quqy, Koy 

Rabinal, Rahbee nahl 

Rahpop-Achih, Rahpawp-Atchee 

Rahtzalam, Raht sahlahm 

Raxa-Caculhd, Rahshah Kah koolha' 

Raxd-nanauac, Rahshah-nahnah wock 

Tamazul, Tah mahsool 

Tamub, Tah moob 

Tatam, Tah tahm 

Tecpdn, Tayk pahn' 

Tepepul-Iztayul, Taypay pool-Ees tah yool 

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Tepeu, Taypay oo 

Tohil, Toh heel 

Toltecat, Tawl tay kaht 

Tortillas, Taur tee yahss 

Tucumbalam, Tookoom bahlahm 

Tuhalhd, Toohahl hah' 

Tuldn-Zuivd, Toolahn' Sweewah 

Tzacol, Tsah kawl 

Tzalatz, Tsah lahts 

Tziquinahd, Tseekee nahah' 

Tzite, Tsee tay' 

Tzolohche, Tsaw law tchay' 

Tzotzihd Chimalcdn, Tsawt see hah' Tehee mahl kahn' 

Tzununihd, Tsoo noo neehah' 

Tzutuhd, Tsoo toohah' 

Uchabahd, Ootchah bahah' 

Uchuch-Camhd, Ootchootch-Kahmhah' 

U Qux cho, Oo koosh tchaw 

U Qux Palo, Oo koosh Pahloh' 

Utiu, Oo teeyoo' 

Utzam-pop-Zalclatol, Ootsahm-pawp-Sahl klah tawl 

Uvild, Oo weelah' 

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Vac, Wahk 

Vahxahahuh, Washahl ahooh 

Vahxaqui-Caam, Washah kee-Kahm 

Vinac, Weenock 

Voc, Wuhk 

Vuc Amag, Wook Ahmahg 

Vucub-Came, Wookoob-Kahmay' 

Vucub-Caquix, Wookoob-Kahkeesh 

Vucub Hunahpu, Wookoob Hoonah poo' 

Vucub Pec, Wookoob Payk 

Vucub Zivdn, Wookoob Seewahn' 

Xahbaquieh, Shahbah keeay 
Xan, Shahn 

Xbalanque, Shbah lahnkay' 
Xbaquiyalo, Shbah keeyahloh 
Xcacau, Shkah kow 
Xcanil, Shkah neel 
Xcuxeba, Shkoo shaybah' 
Xebalax, Shay bahlahsh 
Xecamax, Shay kahmahsh 
Xecotcovach, Shaykawtkaw watch 

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Xelahuh, Shay lahoo 

Xibalba, Shee bahlbah 

Xic, Sheek 

Xiquiripat, Sheekeeree paht 

Xmucane, Shmookah nay' 

Xmucur, Shmoo koor 

Xoyabah, Shaw yahbah 

Xpiyacoc, Shpee yahkawk 

Xpuch, Shpootch 

Xquic, Shkeek 

Xtah, Shtah 

Xtoh, Shtoh 

Xtzul, Shtsool 

Xulu, Shooloo' 

Xuxulim-hd, Shoo shooleem-hah' 

Yac, Yahk 

Yacolatam, Yah kawl ahtahm 

Yaqui, Yahkee 

Yaxcanul, Yash kahnool 

Ycoltux, Eekoll toosh 

Yolcuat-Quitzalcuat, Yawlkwat-Keetzabl kwat 

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Zacahd, Sahk ahah' 

Zaccabahd, Sahkah bahah' 

Zaculeu, Sahkoo layoo 

Zapotes, Sah pawtays 

Zaquic, Sah keek 

Zaquicaz, Sah keekahs 

Zaqui-Nim-Ac, Sahkee-Neem-Ac 

Zaqui-Nimd-Tziis, Sahkee-Neemah'-Tsees' 

Zaquiribal, Sah keeree bahl 

Zaquitoc, Sahkee tawk 

Zaquiyd, Sahkee yah' 

Zipacnd, Seepock nah' 

Ziyahd, See yahah' 

Zompopos, Sawm pawpaws 

Zotzi-hd, Sawtsee-hah' 

Zotzil, Sawt seel 

Page 33 of 196 


Popol Vuh 




of the old traditions of this 

place called Quiche. 1 

Here we shall write and we shall begin the old stories, 2 the beginning and the origin of all that 
was done in the town of the Quiche, by the tribes of the Quiche nation. 

And here we shall set forth the revelation, the declaration, and the narration of all that was hidden, 
the revelation by Tzacol, Bitol, Alom, Qaholom 3, who are called Hunahpii-Vuch, Hunahpu-Utiu, 
Zaqui-Nima-Tziis, Tepeu, Gucumatz, u Qux cho, u Qux Palo, Ali Raxa Lac, Ah Raxa Tzel, as 
they were called. 3 And [at the same time] the declaration, the combined narration of the 
Grandmother and the Grandfather, whose names are Xpiyacoc, and Xmucane, 4 helpers and 
protectors, twice grandmother, twice grandfather, so called in the Quiche chronicles. Then we 
shall tell all that they did in the light of existence, in the light of history. 5 

This we shall write now under the Law of God and Christianity; we shall bring it to light because 
now the Popol Vuh, as it is called, g cannot be seen any more, in which was dearly seen the 
coming from the other side of the sea and the narration of our obscurity, and our life was clearly 
seen. 7 The original book, written long ago, existed, but its sight is hidden to the searcher and to 
the thinker. Great were the descriptions and the account of how all the sky and earth were formed, 
how it was formed and divided into four parts; how it was partitioned, and how the sky was 
divided; and the measuring-cord was brought, and it was stretched in the sky and over the earth, 
on the four angles, on the four corners, 8 as was told by the Creator and the Maker, the Mother 
and the Father of Life, 9 of all created things, he who gives breath and thought, she who gives 
birth to the children, he who watches over the happiness of the people, the happiness of the 
human race, the wise man, he who meditates on the goodness of all that exists in the sky, on the 
earth, in the lakes and in the sea. 


2:1 Are u xe oher tzih varal Quiche u hi. At the very beginning of the ancient chronicles of the 
Quiche race and in the following words, the unknown author of this manuscript gives the name 

Page 34 of 196 

Quiche to the country: varal Quiche u hi; to the city, Quiche tinamit; and to the tribes of the 
nation, r'amag Quiche vinac. The word quiche, queche, or quechelah means "forest" in many of 
the Indian dialects of Guatemala, and comes from qui, quiy, "many," and che, "tree," an original 
Maya word. Quiche, "land of many trees," "covered with forests," was the name of the most 
powerful nation of the interior of Guatemala in the sixteenth century. The Nahuatl word 
QuauhtlemaUan has the same meaning, which is probably a direct translation of the Quiche name 
and aptly describes the mountainous, fertile country which lies south of Mexico. Without doubt 
the Aztec name QuauhtlemaUan, from which the modern name of Guatemala is derived, was 
applied to the entire country and not only to the capital of the Cakchiquel, Iximche (the tree now 
called breadnut in English), which the Tlaxcalteca, who arrived with Alvarado, called Tecpan- 
Quauhtlemallan. All this territory situated to the south of Yucatan and the Peten-Itza region was 
known since before the Spanish Conquest as QuauhtlemaUan and Tecolotlan (the Verapaz of 
today). Sahagun is very explicit when he says (Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espaha 
[1938 ed.] Book X, Chap. XXIX) that the first inhabitants of New Spain landed in Panutla 
(Panuco) and traveled along the seacoast looking toward the snow-covered mountains and 
volcanoes until they came to the province of Guatemala. 

2:2 Varal x-chi ca tzibah vi, x-chi ca dquiba-vi oher tzih, in the original. In order to write the 
ancient chronicles about the origin and development of the Quiche nation, the author probably 
made use not only of oral traditions, but also of the ancient paintings or picture-writings. Sahagun 
says that the Toltec priests as they journeyed toward the East (Yucatan) took with them "all their 
paintings in which they had all the things of ancient times and of the arts and crafts." In Chapter 5 
of Part IV of this book one reads that Lord Nacxit (Quetzalcoatl) gave to the Quiche princes, 
among other things, "the paintings of Tulan [u tzibal Tuldn], the paintings as those were called in 
which they put their chronicles." 

2:3 These are the names of the divinity, arranged in pairs of creators in accord with the dual 
conception of the Quiche: Tzacol and Bitol, Creator and Maker. Alom, the mother god, she who 
conceived the sons, from al "son," aldn, "to give birth." Qaholom, the father god who begat the 
sons, from qahol, "son of the father," qaholah, "to beget." Ximenez calls them Mother and 
Father; they are the Great Father and the Great Mother, so called by the Indians, according to Las 
Casas; and they were in heaven. 

Hunahpu-Vuch, a hunting-fox bitch, or tacuazin (opossum), god of the dawn; vuch is the moment 
which precedes dawn, Hunahpu-Vuch is the divinity in the feminine capacity, according to Seler. 
Hunahpu-Utiu, a hunting coyote, a variety of wolf {canis latrans), god of the night, is the name in 
the masculine capacity. 

Zaqui-Nimd-Tziis, great white coati mundi (Nasua nasica), gray with age, mother of god; and her 
consort, Nim-Ac, great wild pig, or wild boar, wanting in this passage through unintentional 
omission, but given in the following chapter. 

Tepeu, "king" or "sovereign," from the Nahuatl Tepeuh, tepeuani, which Molina translates as 
"conqueror" or "vanquisher in battle"; the Maya form is ah tepehual, and was probably taken 
from the Mexicans. Gucumatz, a serpent covered with green feathers, from the Quiche word guc 
(kuk in Maya), "green feathers," particularly those of the quetzal, and cumatz, serpent; it is the 

Page 35 of 196 

Quiche version of Kukulcan, the Maya name for Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec king, conqueror, culture 
hero, and god of Yucatan during the period of the Maya New Empire. The profound Mexican 
influence in the religion of the Quiche is reflected in this Creator-couple who continue to be 
invoked throughout the book until the divinity took the bodily form of Tohil, who in Part III is 
specifically identified with Quetzalcoatl. 

U Qux Cho, the heart, or the spirit of the lake. U Qux Palo, the heart or spirit of die sea. As will 
be seen, the divinity was also called the Heart of Heaven, u Qux Cah; 

Ah Raxd Lac, the Lord of the Green Plate, or the earth; A Raxd Tzel, the Lord of the Green Gourd 
or of the blue bowl, as Ximenez says, meaning the sky. 

The name Hunahpii has been the subject of many interpretations. Literally it means a "hunter with 
a blowgun," a "shooter"; etymologically it is the same, and is a word of the Maya tongue, ahpu in 
Maya meaning "hunter," and ah ppuh ob, the plural form, the "hunters," who go forth to the 
chase, according to the Diccionario de Motul. It is evident, nevertheless, that the Quiche had to 
have some more plausible reason than this particular etymology for giving the name to their 
principal divinity. The hunter in primitive times was a very important personage; the people lived 
by the products of the chase and the wild fruits of the earth before the beginning of agriculture. 
Hunahpii would be, consequently, the universal hunter who provided man with food; hun in Maya 
also has the meaning of "general" and "Universal." But possibly the Quiche who descended 
directly from the Maya, wished to reproduce, in the name Hunahpii, the sound of the Maya words 
Hunab Ku, "the only god," which they used to designate the principal god of the Maya pantheon, 
and which could not be represented materially since he was incorporeal. The painting of a hunter 
might have served in ancient times to represent the sound of Hunab Ku, which contained the 
abstract idea of a spiritual and divine being. The procedure is common in pre-Columbian 
pictographic writing. Hunahpii is also the name of the twentieth day of the Quiche calendar, the 
day most venerated by the ancients; it is equivalent to the Maya Ahau, "lord" or "chief," and to 
the Nahuatl Xochitl, "flower" and "sun," symbol of the sun god or Tonatiuh. 

2:4 Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, the old man and the old woman (in Maya, xnuc is "old woman"), 
equivalents of the Mexican gods Cipactonal and Oxomoco, the sages who, according to the Toltec 
legend, invented their astrology and arranged the counting of time, that is, the calendar. Although 
in the Quiche legend there was also the other abstract pair previously mentioned, Xpiyacoc and, 
above all, his consort Xmucane, this pair had a more direct contact with the things of this world; 
together they were what the Mexican archaeologist Enrique Juan Palacios calls "the active 
Creator-couple who are directly concerned with the making of material things." 

2:5 Ta x-qui tzihoh ronohel ruq x-qui ban chic chi zaquil qolem, zaquil tzih. 

2:6 Popo Vuh, or Popol Vuh, literally the "Book of the Community." The word popol is Maya and 
means "together," "reunion," or "common house." Popol na is the "house of the community 
where they assemble to discuss things of the republic," says the Diccionario de Motul. Pop is a 
Quiche verb which means "to gather," "to join," "to crowd," according to Ximenez; and popol is 
a thing belonging to the municipal council, "communal," or "national." For this reason Ximenez 
interprets Popol Vuh as Book of the Community or of the Council. Vuh or uuh is "book," "paper," 

Page 36 of 196 

or "rag" and is derived from the Maya huun or uun, which means at the same time both paper and 
book, and finally the tree, the bark of which was used in making paper in ancient times, and 
which the Nahua call amatl, commonly known in Guatemala as amatle (Ficus cotinifolia). Note 
that in many words the n from the Maya is changed to j or h in Quiche. Na, "house" in Maya, is 
changed to ha, ovja; huun or uun, "book" in Maya, becomes vuh or uuh in Quiche. 

2:7 Ilbal zac petenac chacdpalo, u tzihoxic ca muhibal, ilbal zac qazlem. Brasseur de Bourbourg 
enclosed the last seven words in quotation marks, but in the original these marks do not appear. 

2:8 Cah tzuc, cah xucut, in the original. The four cardinal points, according to Brasseur de 
Bourbourg. It is the same idea of the four Bacabs which in Maya mythology support the sky. 

2:9 When the Popol Vuh enumerates persons of the two sexes, it will be observed that it gallantly 
mentions the woman first. 

Page 37 of 196 

PART I: Chapter 1 

1 his is the account of how all was in suspense, all calm, in silence; all motionless, still, and the 
expanse of the sky was empty. 

This is the first account, the first narrative. There was neither man, nor animal, birds, fish, crabs, 
trees, stones, caves, ravines, grasses, nor forests; there was only the sky. 

The surface of the earth had not appeared. There was only the calm sea and the great expanse of 
the sky. 

There was nothing brought together, nothing which could make a noise, nor anything which 
might move, or tremble, or could make noise in the sky. 

There was nothing standing; only the calm water, the placid sea, alone and tranquil. Nothing 

There was only immobility and silence in the darkness, in the night. Only the creator, the Maker, 
Tepeu, Gucumatz, the Forefathers, 1 were in the water surrounded with light. 2 They were hidden 
under green and blue feathers, and were therefore called Gucumatz. 3 By nature they were great 
sages and great thinkers. 4 In this manner the sky existed and also the Heart of Heaven, which is 
the name of God and thus He is called. 

Then came the word. Tepeu and Gucumatz came together in the darkness, in the night, and Tepeu 
and Gucumatz talked together. 5 They talked then, discussing and deliberating; they agreed, they 
united their words and their thoughts. 

Then while they meditated, it became clear to them that when dawn would break, man must 
appear. § Then they planned the creation, and the growth of the trees and the thickets and the birth 
of life and the creation of man. Thus it was arranged in the darkness and in the night by the Heart 
of Heaven who is called Huracan. 

The first is called Caculha Huracan. The second is Chipi-Caculha. The third is Raxa-Caculha. 
And these three are the Heart of Heaven. 7 

Then Tepeu and Gucumatz came together; then they conferred about life and light, what they 
would do so that there would be light and dawn, 8 who it would be who would provide food and 

Thus let it be done! Let the emptiness be filled! 9 Let the water recede and make a void, let the 
earth appear and become solid; let it be done. Thus they spoke. Let there be light, let there be 
dawn in the sky and on the earth! There shall be neither glory nor grandeur in our creation and 
formation until the human being is made, man is formed. So they spoke. 

Page 38 of 196 

Then the earth was created by them. So it was, in truth, that they created the earth. Earth! they 
said, and instantiy it was made. 

Like the mist, like a cloud, and like a cloud of dust was the creation, when the mountains 
appeared from the water; 10 and instantly the mountains grew. 

Only by a miracle, only by magic art were the mountains and valleys formed; and instantly the 
groves of cypresses and pines put forth shoots together on the surface of the earth. 11 

And thus Gucumatz was filled with joy, and exclaimed: "Your coming has been fruitful, Heart of 
Heaven; and you, Huracan, and you, Chipi-Caculha, Raxa-Caculha!" 

"Our work, our creation shall be finished," they answered. 

First the earth was formed, the mountains and the valleys; the currents of water were divided, the 
rivulets were running freely between the hills, and the water was separated when the high 
mountains appeared. 

Thus was the earth created, when it was formed by the Heart of Heaven, the Heart of Earth, as 
they are called who first made it fruitful, when the sky was in suspense, and the earth was 
submerged in the water. 

So it was that they made perfect the work, when they did it after thinking and meditating upon it. 


6:1 E Alom, literally, those who conceive and give birth, e Qaholom, those who beget the 
children. In order to follow the conciseness of the text here I translate the two terms as the 

6:2 They were in the water because the Quiche associated the name Gucumatz with the liquid 
element. Bishop Nunez de la Vega says that Gucumatz is a serpent with feathers, which moves in 
the water. The Cakchiquel Manuscript says that one of the primitive peoples which migrated to 
Guatemala was called Gucumatz because their salvation was in the water. 

6:3 E qo vi e mucutal pa guc pa raxon. Guc or q'uc, kuk in Maya, is the bird now called quetzal 
(Pharomacrus mocinno); the same name is given to the beautiful green feathers which cover this 
bird's tail; in Nahuati they are called quetzalli. Raxon, or raxom, is another bird with sky-blue 
plumage, according to Basseta; it is a bird with "chestnut-colored breast and blue wings," 
according to the Vocabulario de los Padres Franciscanos. In the common native language of 
Guatemala it is called ranchon, the Cotinga amabilis, a turquoise blue bird with purple breast and 
throat, which the Mexicans call Xiuhtototl. The feathers of these tropical birds, which abound 
especially in the region of Verapaz, were worn as decorations in the ceremonials by the kings and 
noblemen from the most ancient Maya times. 

Page 39 of 196 

6:4 E nimac etamanel, e nimac ahnaoh, in the original. 

6:5 X chau ruq ri Tepeu, Gucumatz. Here the word ruq indicates the reciprocal form of the verb. 

6:6 Ta x-calah puch vinac. With the conciseness of the Quiche language, the author says how the 
idea was clearly born in the minds of the Makers, how the necessity for creating man, the ultimate 
and supreme being of the creation, was revealed to them, according to the philosophy of the 
Quiche. Brasseur de Bourbourg interprets this phrase as follows: "et au moment de I'aurore, 
I'homme se manifesto." This interpretation is erroneous; the idea of creating man was conceived 
then, but as will be seen farther on in the account, it was not actually carried out until a much later 

6:7 Huracdn, a leg; Caculhd Huracdn, flash of a leg or the lightning; Chipi-Caculhd, small flash. 
This is Ximenez' interpretation. The third, Raxa-Caculhd, is the green flash, according to the 
same author; and, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg, it is the lightning or thunder. The 
adjective rax has, among other meanings, that of "sudden" or "instantly." In Cakchiquel Rax- 
hand-hih is lightning. Nevertheless, despite all this, in both Quiche and Cakchiquel, racan means 
"large" or "long. "According to Father Coto, it means a long thing, rope, etc. And also giant {hu 
racdri),"a name which applies to every animal which is larger than others of its species," Father 
Coto adds. These ideas agree with the form of the flash and the lightning as it is drawn in the sky. 
The Caribs of the West Indies adopted the name huracdn to designate other natural phenomena 
equally destructive, and the word was later incorporated into modern languages. See Brinton, 
Essays of an Americanist. 

6:8 Hupachd ta ch'auax-oc, ta zaquiro puch. Here and in other places in this book, Ximenez and 
Brasseur de Bourbourg confuse the form of the Quiche verb auax, auaxic, which corresponds to 
the verb and substantive "dawn," with auan, "plant," and auix, the "cornfield." The Maya 
language has the word ahalcab which means "dawn," "break of day," and ahan cab, "it has 
already dawned," from ahal, "awaken." In olden times the two verbs "to sow" and "to dawn" 
were also very similar in Maya. According to the Diccionario de la lengua maya by Jose Pio 
Perez, oc cah is to sow grain or seed, and ah cah cab, to dawn, to make light. It is curious to 
observe that the Maya cognate was preserved in the ancient Quiche; and it seems probable that 
these analogous forms in the Maya and the Quiche had a common root. 

6:9 Qu'yx nohin-tah. 

6:10 X-ta pe pa ha ri huyub, the mountains came, or emerged from the water. The similarity of 
the words x-ta pe with tap, "crab," suggested to Ximenez the comparison of the mountains with 
the crab. Brasseur de Bourbourg followed him in this. Nevertheless, the sentence could not be 

6:11 Xaqui naual, xaqui puz x-banatah vi. The expression puz naual is used to indicate the magic 
power to create or transform one thing into another. Puz naual haleb, says Father Barela, was the 
sorcery used by the Indians to transform themselves into balls of fire, eagles, and animals. 

Page 40 of 196 

I. Chapter 2 

1 hen they made the small wild animals, the guardians of the woods, the spirits of the 
mountains, 1 the deer, the birds, pumas, jaguars, serpents, snakes, vipers, guardians of the thickets. 

And the Forefathers asked: 'Shall there be only silence and calm under the trees, under the vines? 
It is well that hereafter there be someone to guard them." 

So they said when they meditated and talked. Promptly the deer and the birds were created, 
immediately they gave homes to the deer and the birds. "You, deer, shall sleep in the fields by the 
river bank and in the ravines. Here you shall be amongst the thicket, amongst the pasture; in the 
woods you shall multiply, you shall walk on four feet and they will support you. Thus be it done!" 
So it was they spoke. 

Then they also assigned homes to the birds big and small. "You shall live in the trees and in the 
vines. There you shall make your nests; there you shall multiply; there you shall increase in the 
branches of the trees and in the vines." Thus the deer and the birds were told; they did their duty 
at once, and all sought their homes and their nests. 

And the creation of all the four-footed animals and the birds being finished, they were told by the 
Creator and the Maker and the Forefathers: "Speak, cry, warble, call, speak each one according to 
your variety, each, according to your kind." So was it said to the deer, the birds, pumas, jaguars, 
and serpents. 

"Speak, then, our names, praise us, your mother, your father. Invoke then, Huracan, Chipi- 
Caculha, Raxa-Caculha, the Heart of Heaven, the Heart of Earth, the Creator, the Maker, the 
Forefathers; speak, invoke us, adore us," they were told. 

But they could not make them speak like men; they only hissed and screamed and cackled; they 
were unable to make words, and each screamed in a different way. 

When the Creator and the Maker saw that it was impossible for them to talk to each other, they 
said: "It is impossible for them to say our names, the names of us, their Creators and Makers. This 
is not well," said the Forefathers to each other. 

Then they said to them: "Because it has not been possible for you to talk, you shall be changed. 
We have changed our minds: Your food, your pasture, your homes, and your nests you shall have; 
they shall be the ravines and the woods, because it has not been possible for you to adore us or 
invoke us. There shall be those who adore us, we shall make other [beings] who shall be obedient. 
Accept your destiny: your flesh shall be torn to pieces. So shall it be. This shall be your lot." So 
they said, when they made known their will to the large and small animals which are on the face 
of the earth. 

Page 41 of 196 

They wished to give them another trial; 2 they, wished to make another attempt; they wished to 
make [all living things] adore them. 

But they could not understand each other's speech; they could succeed in nothing, and could do 
nothing. For this reason they were sacrificed and the animals which were on earth were 
condemned to be killed and eaten. 

For this reason another attempt had to be made to create and make men by the Creator, the Maker, 
and the Forefathers. 

"Let us try again! Already dawn draws near: 3 Let us make him who shall nourish and sustain us! 
What shall we do to be invoked, in order to be remembered on earth? We have already tried with 
our first creations, our first creatures; but we could not make them praise and venerate us. 4 So, 
then, let us try to make obedient, respectful beings who will nourish and sustain us." Thus they 

Then was the creation and the formation. Of earth, of mud, they made [man's] flesh. But they saw 
that it was not good. It melted away, it was soft, did not move, had no strength, it fell down, it was 
limp, it could not move its head, its face fell to one side, its sight was blurred, 5 it could not look 
behind. At first it spoke, but had no mind. Quickly it soaked in the water and could not stand. 

And the Creator and the Maker said: g "Let us try again because our creatures will not be able to 
walk nor multiply. Let us consider this," they said. 

Then they broke up and destroyed their work and their creation. And they said: "What shall we do 
to perfect it, in order that our worshipers, our invokers, will be successful?" 

Thus they spoke when they conferred again: "Let us say again to Xpiyacoc, Xmucane, Hunahpii- 
Vuch, Hunahpu-Utiu: 'Cast your lot again. Try to create again.'" In this manner the Creator and 
the Maker spoke to Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. 

Then they spoke to those soothsayers, the Grandmother of the day, the Grandmother of the 
Dawn, 7 as they were called by the Creator and the Maker, and whose names were Xpiyacoc and 

And said Huracan, Tepeu, and Gucumatz when they spoke to the soothsayer, to the Maker, who 
are the diviners: "You must work together and find the means so that man, whom we shall make, 
man, whom we are going to make, will nourish and sustain us, invoke and remember us. 

"Enter, then, into council, grandmother, grandfather, our grandmother, our grandfather, Xpiyacoc, 
Xmucane, make light, make dawn, have us invoked, have us adored, have us remembered by 
created man, by made man, by mortal man. 8 Thus be it done. 

"Let your nature be known, Hunahpu-Vuch, Hunahpu-Utiu, twice-mother, twice-father, 9 Nim- 
Ac, 10 Nima-Tziis, 11 the master of emeralds, the worker in jewels, the sculptor, the carver, the 
maker of beautiful plates, the maker of green gourds, the master of resin, the master Toltecat, 12 

Page 42 of 196 

grandmother of the sun, grandmother of dawn, as you will be called by our works and our 

"Cast the lot with your grains of corn and tzite. u Do it thus u and we shall know if we are to 
make, or carve his mouth and eyes out of wood." Thus the diviners were told. 

They went down at once to make their divination, and cast their lots with the corn and the tzite. 
"Fate! Creature!" 15 said an old woman and an old man. And this old man was the one who cast 
the lots with Tzite, the one called Xpiyacoc. 16 And the old woman was the diviner, the maker, 
called Chiracan Xmucane. 17 

Beginning the divination, they said: "Get together, grasp each other! Speak, that we may hear." 
They said, "Say if it is well that the wood be got together and that it be carved by the Creator and 
the Maker, and if this [man of wood] is he who must nourish and sustain us when there is light 
when it is day! 

"You, corn; you, tzite; you, fate; you, creature; get together, take each other," they said to the 
corn, to the tzite, to fate, to the creature. "Come to sacrifice here, Heart of Heaven; do not punish 
Tepeu and Gucumatz!" 18 Then they talked and spoke the truth: "Your figures of wood shall come 
out well; they shall speak and talk on earth." 

"So may it be," they answered when they spoke. 

And instantly the figures were made of wood. They looked like men, talked like men, and 
populated the surface of the earth. 

They existed and multiplied; they had daughters, they had sons, these wooden figures; but they 
did not have souls, nor minds, they did not remember their Creator, their Maker; they walked on 
all fours, aimlessly. 

They no longer remembered the Heart of Heaven and therefore they fell out of favor. It was 
merely a trial, an attempt at man. At first they spoke, but their face was without expression; their 
feet and hands had no strength; they had no blood, nor substance, 19 nor moisture, nor flesh; their 
cheeks were dry, their feet and hands were dry, and their flesh was yellow. 

Therefore, they no longer thought of their Creator nor their Maker, nor of those who made them 
and cared for them. 20 

These were the first men who existed in great numbers on the face of the earth. 


12:1 U vinaquil huyub, literally, "the little man of the forest." The Indians in ancient times 
believed that the forests were peopled with these little beings, guardians, spirits of the forests, a 

Page 43 of 196 

species of hobgoblin similar to the alux of the Maya. The Memorial Cakchiquel calls them ru 
vinakil chee, from che, "tree" which Father Coto translates as "the hobgoblin which walks in the 
mountains," and by another name, the Zakikoxol. According to the Memorial, the ancient 
Cakchiquel used to speak with these little men who were the spirits of the volcano of Fuego, ru 
cux huyu chi Gag, called Zakikoxol. 

12:2 Ta x-r'ah cu qui tih chic qui quih in the original. 

12:3 Mi x-yopih r'auaxic u zaquiric. "Already the time of planting nears" is the meaning which 
Brasseur de Bourbourg incorrectly gives to this sentence, getting ahead of events, because man 
had not yet been created, nor had agriculture yet been practiced. 

12:4 Mavi mi x-utzinic ca quihiloxic, ca calaixic puch cumal, in the original text. 

12:5 Xa cul u vach. 

12:6 Ahtzac, Ahbit, variants of Tzacol and Bitol. 

12:7 R'atit quih, R'atit zac. The word atit may be taken here in the collective sense, including the 
two grandparents Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, who are later called by their names in the text. The 
same expression is found farther on. 

12:8 Vinac poy, vinac anom. Poy anom, in Cakchiquel, has the meaning of "the mortal." 

12:9 Camul Alom, camul Qaholom. The author calls Hunahpu-Vuch, "two times mother," and 
Hunahpu-Utiu, "two times father," thus giving the sex of each of the two members of the Creator- 

12:10 Large wild boar, or wild pig. Nim-Ac is the father. 

12:11 Nima-Tziis, the mother, large pisote or coati mundi (Nasua nasica). It might also be 
interpreted as large tapir (Tix in Poconchi, tzimin in Jacalteca). The tapir was the sacred animal of 
the Tzeltal Indians of Chiapas, and Bishop Nunez de la Vega says that, according to legend, 
Votan took a tapir to Huehuetlan, and that it multiplied in the waters of the river which runs 
through Soconusco, a district in the present state of Chiapas, Mexico. 

12:12 Here the text seems to enumerate the usual occupations of the men of that time. The author 
calls upon ahqual, who is evidently the one who carves emeralds or green stones; ahyamanic, the 
jeweler or silversmith; ahchut, engraver or sculptor; ahtzalam, carver or cabinetmaker; ahraxalac, 
he who fashions green or beautiful plates; ahraxazel, he who makes the beautiful green vases or 
gourds (called Xicalli in Nahuatl)— the word raxd has both meanings; ahgol, he who makes the 
resin or copal; and, finally, ahtoltecat, he who, without doubt, was the silversmith. The Tolteca 
were, in fact, skilled silversmiths who, according to the legend, were taught the art by 
Quetzalcoatl himself. 

Page 44 of 196 

12:13 Erythrina corallodendron. Tzite, arbol de pito in Guatemala; Tzompanquahuitl in the 
Mexican language. It is used in both countries to make fences. Its fruit is a pod which contains red 
grains resembling a bean which the Indians used, as they still do, together with grains of corn, in 
their fortune telling and witchcraft. In his Informe contra Idolorum Cultores, Sanchez de Aguilar 
says that the Maya Indians "cast lots with a large handful of corn." As is seen, the practice which 
is still observed by the Maya-Quiche is of respectable antiquity. 

12:14 Chi banatahic xa pu ch'el apon-oc, literally: "Do it so and it will be done." 

12:15 Quihl, Bitl The first word is "sun," and Brasseur de Bourbourg translates it as such, but it 
also means "fate," and this is evidently its meaning in this invocation. 

12:16 Ah tzite, he who tells the fortune by the grains of tzite; Basseta interprets the word as 
"sorcerer," who in this case, is Xpiyacoc. 

12:17 Are curi atit ahquih, ahbit, Chiracdn Xmucane u bi. The ahquih was the priest and sorcerer, 
and these very respected officers are still so called in Quiche. Ahbit is the creator and maker. 
Chiracdn Xmucane is the same as the Great Xmucane. 

12:18 Cat quix la uloc, at u Qux cah, m'a cahizah u chi, u vach Tepeu, Gucumatz. Here other 
translators have rendered the verb quix as "to shame." Brasseur de Bourbourg observes that it 
may also signify "to sting" or "take out blood" with a thorn. This was a common form of sacrifice 
among the Indians, and seems to indicate the real meaning of the sentence as used by the author. 
Qahizan vach is "to punish," according to the Vocabulario de los Padres Franciscanos. The 
entire passage is an invitation to the Heart of Heaven to come and take part in casting lots and not 
let the diviners fail. 

12:19 Comahil, "blood," substance of the person. Father Coto, Vocabulario Cakchiquel. 

12:20 A/ay quech, quxlaay quech. 

Page 45 of 196 

I. Chapter 3 

Immediately the wooden figures were annihilated, destroyed, broken up, and killed. 

A flood was brought about by the Heart of Heaven; a great flood was formed which fell on the 
heads of the wooden creatures. 

Of tzite the flesh of man was made, but when woman was fashioned by the Creator and the 
Maker, her flesh was made of rushes. 1 These were the materials the Creator and the Maker 
wanted to use in making them. 

But those that they had made, that they had created, did not think, did not speak with their 
Creator, their Maker. And for this reason they were killed, they were deluged. A heavy resin fell 
from the sky. The one called Xecotcovach came and gouged out their eyes; Camalotz came and 
cut off their heads; Cotzbalam came and devoured their flesh. Tucumbalam 2 came, too, and broke 
and mangled their bones and their nerves, and ground and crumbled their bones. 3 

This was to punish them because they had not thought of their mother, nor their father, the Heart 
of Heaven, called Huracan. And for this reason the face of the earth was darkened and a black rain 
began to fall, by day and by night. 

Then came the small animals and the large animals, and sticks and stones struck their faces. And 
all began to speak: their earthen jars, 4 their griddles, 5 their plates, their pots, their grinding 
stones, e all rose up and struck their faces. 

"You have done us much harm; you ate us, and now we shall kill you," said their dogs and birds 
of the barnyard. 7 

And the grinding stones said: "We were tormented by you; every day, every day, at night, at 
dawn, all the time our faces went holi, holi, huqui, huqui, because of you. a This was the tribute 
we paid you. But now that you are no longer men, you shall feel our strength. We shall grind and 
tear your flesh to pieces," said their grinding stones. 

And then their dogs spoke and said: "Why did you give us nothing to eat? You scarcely looked at 
us, but you chased us and threw us out. You always had a stick 9 ready to strike us while you were 

"Thus it was that you treated us. You did not speak to us. Perhaps we shall not kill you now; but 
why did you not look ahead, why did you not think about yourselves? Now we shall destroy you, 
now you shall feel the teeth of our mouths; we shall devour you," said the dogs, and then, they 
destroyed their faces. 10 

And at the same time, their griddles and pots spoke: "Pain and suffering you have caused us. Our 
mouths and our faces were blackened with soot; we were always put on the fire and you burned 

Page 46 of 196 

us as though we felt no pain. Now you shall feel it, we shall burn you," said their pots, and they 
all destroyed their [the wooden men's] faces. The stones of the hearth, 11 which were heaped 
together, hurled themselves straight from the fire against their heads causing them pain. 12 

The desperate ones [the men of wood] ran as quickly as they could; they wanted to climb to the 
tops of the houses, and the houses fell down and threw them to the ground; they wanted to climb 
to the treetops, and the trees cast them far away; they wanted to enter the caverns, and the caverns 
repelled them. 13 

So was the ruin of the men who had been created and formed, the men made to be destroyed and 
annihilated; the mouths and faces of all of them were mangled. 

And it is said that their descendants are the monkeys which now live in the forests; u these are all 
that remain of them because their flesh was made only of wood by the Creator and the Maker. 

And therefore the monkey looks like man, and is an example of a generation of men which were 
created and made but were only wooden figures. 


15:1 The Quiche name zibaque is commonly used in Guatemala to designate this plant of the 
Typhaceae family, which is much used in making the mats called petates tules in that country. 
Basseta says it is the part of a reed with which mats are made. 

15:2 It is difficult to interpret the names of these enemies of man. Ximenez says that Xecotcovach 
was a bird, probably an eagle (cot) or sparrow hawk. The Camalotz which cut off men's heads 
was evidentiy the large vampire (nimd chicop) Camazotz, bat of death, which decapitated the 
young Hero Hunahpu in Part II of the manuscript. Cotzbalam may be interpreted as the jaguar 
who lies in wait for his prey. Tucumbalam is another name for the danta or tapir. Seler (Der 
Fledermausgott der Maya-Stamme, Vol. II of Gesammelte Abhandlungen) argues that these "wild 
animal demons of the Popol Vuh" are equivalent to the four monstrous figures which are seen in 
folio 44 of the Codex Borgiano. According to Seler, Tucumbalam is represented in that Codice as 
a species of shark or crocodile. The bat of the East had torn off the head of his neighbor in front 
of him, and the shark or crocodile of the West had torn off his foot. 

15:3 X-cahixic, x-muchulixic qui baquil, in the original. 

15:4 Quebal, which Ximenez translates "grinding stones," is a water-jug or pitcher here. Brasseur 
de Bourbourg translates it incorrectly as tout ce qui leur avait servi. 

15:5 Comalli in the Mexican language, xot in Quiche, a large plate or the disk of clay upon which 
the corn tortillas are baked. 

Page 47 of 196 

15:6 Qui caa, in the original, grinding stone, metate in Mexico. Brasseur de Bourbourg read it 
incorrectiy as qui aqy and translated the passage "their hens." 

15:7 The dogs which the wooden men ate were not like those which are now in America, but a 
species which the Spanish chroniclers called "silent dogs," because they did not bark. The 
barnyard fowls were the turkey, the pheasant, and the wild hen. 

15:8 These words are merely an imitation of the noise made when the corn is being ground by the 
grinding stone. 

15:9 Yacal u bi, "leaning against the wall," or "lying on the ground," according to the Diccionario 

15:10 To understand this paragraph better, it is necessary to re-establish the original punctuation 
which Brasseur de Bourbourg has altered in his transcription, so that it will read as follows: Xere 
c'ohyv-u chaah vi; mavi c'oh chauic. Ma ta cu mi-x-oh camic chyve. Hupacha mavi mi-x-yx 
nauic, x-yx nau ta cutchyvih? Ta cutx-oh zach vi, vacamic cut x-ch'y A ca bac qo pa ca chi; x- 
qu'yx ca tio, x-e cha ri tzi chique, ta x-cut qui vach. 

15:11 They are the three hearthstones of the Indians on which the comal, or the cooking pots, 

15:12 The idea of a flood in olden times and the belief in another which would be the end of the 
world, and would have had characters similar to those described here in the Popol Vuh, still 
existed among the Indians of Guatemala in the years following the Spanish conquest, according to 
the Apologetica Historia (Chap. CCXXXV, p. 620). Bishop Las Casas says in this work that 
"They had, among them, information of the flood and of the end of the world, and called it Butic, 
which is the word which means flood of many waters and means [the final] judgment, and so they 
believe that another Butic is about to come, which is another flood and judgment, not of water, 
but of fire, which they say would be the end of the world, in which all the creatures would have to 
quarrel, especially those which serve man, like the stones on which they grind their corn and 
wheat, the pots, the pitchers, giving to understand that they will turn against man." 

15:13 Xa chi yuch hul chi qui vach, literally, the caverns covered their faces, scorned them. 

15:14 According to the Anales de Cuauhtitldn, in the fourth age of the earth, "many people were 
drowned and others hurled into the mountains and were changed into monkeys." 

Page 48 of 196 

I. Chapter 4 

It was cloudy and twilight then on the face of the earth. There was no sun yet. Nevertheless, there 
was a being called Vucub-Caquix, 1 who was very proud of himself. 

The sky and the earth existed, but the faces of the sun and the moon were covered. 

And he [Vucub-Caquix] said: "Truly, they are clear examples of those people who were drowned, 
and their nature is that of supernatural beings. 2 

"I shall now be great above all the beings created and formed. I am the sun, the light, the moon," 
he exclaimed. "Great is my splendor. Because of me men shall walk and conquer. For my eyes 
are of silver, bright, resplendent as precious stones, as emeralds; my teeth shine like perfect 
stones, like the face of the sky. My nose shines afar like the moon, my throne is of silver, and the 
face of the earth is lighted when I pass before my throne. 

"So, then, I am the sun, I am the moon, for all mankind. 3 So shall it be, because I can see very 

So Vucub-Caquix spoke. But he was not really the sun; he was only vainglorious of his feathers 
and his riches. And he could see only as far as the horizon, and he could not see over all the 

The face of the sun had not yet appeared, nor that of the moon, nor the stars, and it had not 
dawned. Therefore, Vucub-Caquix became as vain as though he were the sun and the moon, 
because the light of the sun and the moon had not yet shown itself His only ambition was to exalt 
himself and to dominate. And all this happened when the flood came because of the wooden- 

Now we shall tell how Vucub-Caquix was overthrown and died, and how man was made by the 
Creator and the Maker. 


18:1 Vucub-Caquix, that is to say, Seven Macaws. Ximenez believed he saw in this personage a 
kind of Lucifer. To Brasseur de Bourbourg he was a prince, perhaps the chief of a large part of 
Central America. It is hardly necessary to point out that this entire episode of Vucub-Caquix and 
his sons is wholly imaginary and has no relation to historical fact. The Quiche frequently used the 
number seven (vucub) in their own names, as is seen throughout this book. 

18:2 This seems to be an allusion to the flood which destroyed the wooden men. Farther on the 
narrator says that Vucub-Caquix existed at the time of the flood. The general idea among the 

Page 49 of 196 

Indians was that not all the primitive men perished during the flood. In the place cited in Chap. 3, 
n. 12, Bishop Las Casas says: "They believed that certain persons who escaped the flood 
populated their lands, and that they were called the great father and the great mother." 

18:3 Quehecut in quih vi, in pu ic rumal zaquil al, zaquil qahol. This passage presents much 
difficulty for the translator. The Vocabulario de las lenguas Quiche y Kakchiquel defines the 
words zaquil al, zaquil qahol, as it "shall be the human family." The meaning generally accepted 
is that of vassals or descendants. 

Page 50 of 196 

I. Chapter 5 

1 his is the beginning of the defeat and the ruin of the glory of Vucub-Caquix brought about by 
two youths, the first of whom was called Hunahpii and the second, Xbalanque. They were really 
gods. i When they saw the harm which the arrogant one had done, and wished to do, in the 
presence of the Heart of Heaven, the youths said: 

"It is not good that it be so, when man does not yet live here on earth. Therefore, we shall try to 
shoot him with our blowgun when he is eating. We shall shoot him and make him sicken, and 
then that will be the end of his riches, his green stones, his precious metals, his emeralds, his 
jewels of which he is so proud. 2 And this shall be the lot of all men, for they must not become 
vain, because of power and riches. 

"Thus shall it be," said the youths, each one putting his blowgun to his shoulder. 

Well, now Vucub-Caquix had two sons: the first was called Zipacna, the second was Cabracan; 
and the mother of the two was called Chimalmat, 3 the wife of Vucub-Caquix. 

Well, Zipacna played ball with the large mountains: with Chigag, 4 Hunahpii, 5 Pecul, § 
Yaxcanul, 7 Macamob, 8 and Huliznab. These are the names of the mountains which existed when 
it dawned and which were created in a single night by Zipacna. 

In this way, then, Cabracan moved the mountains and made the large and small mountains 

And in this way the sons of Vucub-Caquix proclaimed their pride. "Listen! I am the sun!" said 
Vucub-Caquix. "I am he who made the earth!" said Zipacna. "I am he who shook the sky and 
made the earth tremble!" said Cabracan, In this way the sons of Vucub-Caquix followed the 
example of their father's assumed greatness. And this seemed very evil to the youths. Neither our 
first mother nor our first father had yet been created. 

Therefore, the deaths of Vucub-Caquix and his sons and their destruction was decided upon by 
the youths. 


20:1 Hunahpii, a hunter; Xbalanque, small jaguar, the prefix ix is the sign of the feminine and also 
of the diminutive. It may also be "little sorcerer," because balam has two meanings, "jaguar" and 
"sorcerer." Xavi e qabauil, "these were also gods," according to Ximenez' translation. The 
Spanish missionaries found among the Quiche the word Qabauil, or cabauil, with which they 
designated their gods, and they usually translated it as "idol" or "demon"; the missionaries tried to 
compel the Indians to forget it, together with all their ancient religion, and to use only the new 

Page 51 of 196 

Spanish word, God, to refer to the Christian divinity. The Franciscan friars in Yucatan used the 
same method with respect to the word ku, God, and kauil, a Maya adjective meaning "venerable," 
and one which almost always accompanies the name Itzamnd, the sun, the principal god of the 
ancient Maya pantheon. In the early texts the name appears as Itzamna Kauil (Chronicle if 
Chumayel, Landa's Relation, etc.). In the Relation describing his two entrances into the Peten in 
1695 and 1696, Father Avendano says that he knew that among the gods which the Itzas had was 
"one, Itzamna Kauil, which means the Devil's horse." The similarity between the Maya term 
kauil and the Quiche qabauil suggests a very close relationship between them. 

20:2 Chi ca coh vi u yah, ta quiz-oc u quinomal, u xit, u puvac, u cual, u yamanic ri cu gagabeh, 
in the original text. 

20:3 Zipacna, a giant who carried mountains on his back. His food consisted of fish and crabs. 
Cabracan, "double giant," "earthquake" in Quiche. The similarity between the names Chimalmat, 
the wife of Vucub-Caquix, and Chimalman, the mother of Quetzalcoatl, has been noted. It may be 
merely a coincidence, but it may also be due to the influence of the Mexican legend. 

20:4 Mouth of fire, Chi Gag, in the Cakchiquel Manuscript; the volcano of Fuego. 

20:5 Volcano of Agua. The Vocabulario Cakchiquel (No. 41, at the Bibliotheque Nationale of 
Paris) translates Hunahpu as "fragrant flower," fleur odor if er ante, according to Raynaud. Father 
Vasquez, the Franciscan chronicler, calls it a small spray or bouquet of flowers. This 
interpretation is interesting because Hunahpu is the twentieth day of the Quiche and Cakchiquel 
calendars and corresponds to Xochitl, the twentieth day of the Mexican calendar, which also 
means flower. 

20:6 Volcano of Acatenango. The three volcanoes known under the names of Fuego, Agua, and 
Acatenango dominate the landscape of central Guatemala, and the valley in which the Spanish 
Colonial capital was located. 

20:7 Volcano of Santa Maria in the western part of the country. Gagxanul in Cakchiquel. 

20:8 Volcano of Cerro Quemado in Quezaltenango, according to Herman Prowe; volcano of 
Zunil in the same zone, according to Villacorta and Rodas. 

Page 52 of 196 

I. Chapter 6 

IN ow we shall tell how the two youths shot their blowguns at Vucub-Caquix and how each one 
of those, who had become arrogant, was destroyed. 

Vucub-Caquix had a large nantze tree 1 and he ate the fruit of it. Each day he went to the tree and 
climbed to the top. Hunahpu and Xbalanque had seen that this fruit was his food. And they lay in 
ambush at the foot of the tree, hidden among the leaves. Vucub-Caquix came straight to his meal 
of nantzes. 

Instantly he was injured by a discharge from Hun-Hunahpu's 2 blowgun which struck him 
squarely in the jaw, and screaming, he fell straight to earth from the treetop. 

Hun-Hunahpii ran quickly to overpower him, but Vucub-Caquix seized his arm and wrenching it 
from him, bent it back to the shoulder. In this way Vucub-Caquix tore out Hun-Hunahpu's arm. 
Surely the two youths did well in not letting themselves be defeated first by Vucub-Caquix. 

Carrying Hun-Hunahpu's arm, Vucub-Caquix went home, and arrived there nursing his jaw. 

"What has happened to you, my lord?" said Chimalmat, his wife. 

"What could it be, but those two demons who shot me with blowguns and dislocated my jaw? For 
that reason my teeth are loose and pain me very much. But I have brought it [his arm], to put it on 
the fire. Let it hang there over the fire, for surely these demons will come looking for it." So said 
Vucub-Caquix as he hung up the arm of Hun-Hunahpu. 

Having thought it over, Hun-Hunahpii and Xbalanque went to talk with an old man who had 
snow-white hair and with an old woman, really very old and humble, both already bent, like very 
old people. The old man was called Zaqui-Nim-Ac and the old woman, Zaqui-Nima-Tziis. 3 The 
youths said to the old woman and the old man: 

"Come with us to Vucub-Caquix' s house to get our arm. We will follow you, and you shall tell 
them: 'These with us are our grandchildren; their mother and father are dead; so they follow us 
everywhere we are given alms, for the only thing that we know how to do is take the worm from 
the teeth.' 4 

"So Vucub-Caquix shall think we are boys and we shall also be there to advise you," said the two 

"Very well," answered the old man and woman. 

Then they started out for the place where they found Vucub-Caquix reclining on his throne. The 
old woman and man walked along followed by the two boys, who stayed behind them. In this way 
they arrived at the house of the lord who was screaming because his tooth pained him. 

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When Vucub-Caquix saw the old man and the old woman and those who accompanied them, he 
asked, "Where do you come from, grandparents?" 

"We come looking for something to eat, honorable sir," they answered. 

"And what do you eat? Are those not your sons who are with you?" 

"Oh, no, sir! They are our grandsons; but we are sorry for them and what is given to us, we share 
with them, sir," answered the old woman and the old man. 

Meanwhile, the lord was suffering terrible pain from his tooth, and it was only with great 
difficulty that he could speak. 

"I earnestly beg you to have pity on me. What can you do? What do you know how to cure?" the 
lord asked them. 

And the old ones answered, "Oh, sir! we only take the worm from the teeth, cure the eyes, and set 

"Very well. Cure my teeth, which are really making me suffer day and night, and because of them 
and of my eyes I cannot be calm and cannot sleep. All of this is because two demons shot me with 
a pellet [from their blowgun] and for that reason I cannot eat. Have pity on me, then, tighten my 
teeth with your hands." 

"Very well, sir. It is a worm which makes you suffer. It will end when these teeth are pulled and 
others put in their place." 

"It is not well that you pull my teeth, because it is only with them that I am a lord and all my 
ornaments are my teeth and my eyes." 

"'We will put others of ground bone in their place." But the ground bone was nothing but grains 
of white corn. 

"Very well, pull them out, come and relieve me," he replied. 

Then they pulled Vucub-Caquix's teeth; but in their place they put only grains of white corn, and 
these grains of corn shone in his mouth. Instantly his features sagged and he no longer looked like 
a lord. They removed the rest of his teeth which shone like pearls in his mouth. And finally they 
cured Vucub-Caquix's eyes, piercing the pupils of his eyes, and they took all his riches. 

But he felt nothing any more. He only watched, because at the advice of Hunahpu and Xbalanque, 
they took from him all of the things of which he had been so proud. 

Then Vucub-Caquix died. Hun-Hunahpu recovered his arm. Chimalmat, the wife of Vucub- 
Caquix, also perished. 

Page 54 of 196 

In this way Vucub-Caquix lost his riches. The healer took all the emeralds and precious stones 
which had been his pride here on earth. 

The old woman and the old man who did this were miraculous beings; and having recovered the 
arm of Hun-Hunahpii, they put it in place, and it was all right again. 

It was only to bring about the death of Vucub-Caquix that they did this, because it seemed wicked 
to them that he should become so arrogant. 

And then the two youths went on, having in this way carried out the order of the Heart of Heaven. 


25:1 Byrsonima Cotintfolia, B. crassifolia, a beautiful tropical tree which produces a very 
aromatic fruit similar to the white cherry. 

25:2 Hun-Hunahpii appears in this passage instead of the usual Hun-Ahpu, an error which is 
corrected in the course of the narration. 

25:3 Zaqui-Nim-Ac, the Great White Wild Boar; Zaqui-Nima-Tziis, the Great White Coati. The 
old man and the old woman represent the Creator couple who, under different names, appear 
throughout the first part of these chronicles. 

25:4 It is a common belief among the Indians of Guatemala that toothache is caused by a worm 
which gets inside the tooth and produces pain and discomfort. 

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I. Chapter 7 

JTLere now are the deeds of Zipacna the elder son of Vucub-Caquix. 
"I am the creator of the mountains," said Zipacna. 

Zipacna was bathing at the edge of a river when four hundred youths passed 1 dragging a log to 
support their house. The four hundred were walking, after having cut down a large tree to make 
the ridge-pole of their house. 

Then Zipacna came up, and going toward the four hundred youths, said to them: "What are you 
doing, boys?" 

"It is only this log," they answered, "which we cannot lift and carry on our shoulders." 

"I will carry it. Where does it have to go? What do you want it for?" 

"For a ridge-pole for our house." 

"All right," he answered, and lifting it up, he put it on his shoulders and carried it to the entrance 
of the house of the four hundred boys. 

"Now stay with us, boy," they said. "Have you a mother or father;" 

"I have neither," he answered. 

"Then we shall hire you tomorrow to prepare another log to support our house." 

"Good," he answered. 

The four hundred boys talked together then, and said: 

"How shall we kill this boy? Because it is not good what he has done lifting the log alone. Let us 
make a big hole and push him so that he will fall into it. 'Go down and take out the earth and 
carry it from the pit,' we shall tell him. and when he stoops down, to go down into the pit, we 
shall let the large log fall on him and he will die there in the pit." 

So said the four hundred boys, and then they dug a large, very deep pit. Then they called Zipacna. 

"We like you very much. Go, go and dig dirt, for we cannot reach [the bottom of the pit]," they 

"All right," he answered. He went at once into the pit. And calling to him as he was digging the 
dirt, they said: "Have you gone down very deep yet?" 

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"Yes," he answered beginning to dig the pit. But the pit which he was making was to save him 
from danger. He knew that they wanted to kill him; so when he dug the pit, he made a second 
hole at one side in order to free himself. 

"How far [have you gone]?" the four hundred boys called down. 

"I am still digging; I will call up to you when I have finished the digging," said Zipacna from the 
bottom of the pit. But he was not digging his grave; instead he was opening another pit in order to 
save himself. 

At last Zipacna called to them. But when he called, he was already safe in the second pit. 

"Come and take out and carry away the dirt which I have dug and which is in the bottom of the 
pit," he said, "because in truth I have made it very deep. Do you not hear my call? Nevertheless, 
your calls, your words repeat themselves like an echo once, twice, and so I hear well where you 
are." So Zipacna called from the pit where he was hidden, shouting from the depths. 

Then the boys hurled the great log violently, and it fell quickly with a thud to the bottom of the 

"Let no one speak! Let us wait until we hear his dying screams," they said to each other, 
whispering, and each one covered his face as the log fell noisily. He [Zipacna] spoke then, crying 
out, but he called only once when the log fell to the bottom. 

"How well we have succeeded in this! Now he is dead," said the boys, "if, unfortunately, he had 
continued what he had begun to do, we would have been lost, because he already had interfered 
with us, the four hundred boys." 

And filled with joy they said: "Now we must make our chicha 2 within the next three days. When 
the three days are passed, we shall drink to the construction of our new house, we, the, four 
hundred boys." Then they said: "Tomorrow we shall look, and day after tomorrow, we shall also 
look to see if the ants do not come out of the earth when the body smells and begins to rot. 
Presently we shall become calm and drink our chicha," they said. 

But from his pit Zipacna listened to everything the boys said. And later, on the second day, 
multitudes of ants came, going and coming and gathering under the log. Some carried Zipacna' s 
hair in their mouths and others carried his fingernails. 

When the boys saw this, they said, "That devil has now perished. Look how the ants have 
gathered, how they have come by hordes, some bringing his hair and others his fingernails. Look 
what we have done!" So they spoke to each other. 

Nevertheless, Zipacna was very much alive. He had cut his hair and gnawed off his fingernails to 
give them to the ants. 

Page 57 of 196 

And so the four hundred boys believed that he was dead, and on the third day they began the orgy 
and all of the boys got drunk. And the four hundred being drunk knew nothing any more. And 
then Zipacna let the house fall on their heads and killed all of them. 

Not even one or two among the four hundred were saved; they were killed by Zipacna, son of 

In this way the four hundred boys died, and it is said that they became the group of stars which 
because of them are called Motz, 3 but it may not be true. 


29:1 Omuch Qaholab, "four hundred young men." The collective noun is used to indicate a great 
number, a crowd. 

29:2 A drink of the Guatemalan Indians, made of fermented corn. 

29:3 A mass, the Seven Little Sisters, the Pleiades. Brasseur de Bourbourg notes that Omuch 
qaholab, the four hundred young men who perished in an orgy, are the same as those who were 
worshiped in Mexico under the name Centzon-Totochtin, the four hundred rabbits who were 
implored as gods to protect the pulque and the drunkards. 

Page 58 of 196 

I. Chapter 8 

IN ow we shall tell how Zipacna was defeated by the two boys, Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

Now follows the defeat and death of Zipacna, when he was overcome by the two boys, Hunahpii 
and Xbalanque. 

The boys' hearts were full of rancor because the four hundred young men had been killed by 
Zipacna. And he only hunted fish and crabs at the bank of the river, which were his daily food. 
During the day he went about looking for food, and at night he carried mountains on his back. 

With a leaf of the ec plant 1 which is found in the forest, Hunahpii and Xbalanque quickly made a 
figure to look like a very large crab. 

With this they made the stomach of the crab; the claws, they made otpahac, 2 and for the shell, 
which covers the back, they used a stone. Then they put the crab at the bottom of a cave at the 
foot of a large mountain called Meagudn, 3 where he was overcome. 

Then the boys went to find Zipacna on the river bank. 

"Where are you going, young man?" they asked him. 

"I am not going anywhere," Zipacna answered, "only looking for food, boys." 

"And what is your food?" 

"Fish and crabs, but there are none here and I have not found any; I have not eaten since day 
before yesterday, and I am dying of hunger," said Zipacna to Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

"Over there in the bottom of the ravine there is a crab, a really large crab, and it would be well if 
you would eat it! Only it bit us when we tried to catch it and so we were afraid. We wouldn't try 
to catch it for anything," said Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

"Have pity on me! Come and show it to me, boys," begged Zipacna. 

"We do not want to. You go alone, you will not get lost. Follow the bank of the river and you will 
come out at the foot of a large hill; there it is making a noise at the bottom of the ravine. You have 
only to go there," said Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

"Oh, unfortunate me! Won't you accompany me, boys? Come and show it to me. There are many 
birds which you can shoot with your blowguns and I know where to find them," said Zipacna. 

His meekness convinced the boys. And they asked him: But, can you really catch him? Because it 
is only for you that we are returning; we are not going to try to get it again because it bit us when 

Page 59 of 196 

we were crawling into the cave. After that we were afraid to crawl in, but we almost caught it. So, 
then, it is best that you crawl in," they said. 

"Very well," said Zipacna, and then they went with him. They arrived at the bottom of the ravine 
and there, stretched on his back, was the crab, showing his red shell. And there also in the bottom 
of the ravine was the boys' hoax. 4 

"Good! Good!" said Zipacna happily. "I should like to have it in my mouth already!" And he was 
really dying of hunger. He wanted to try to crawl in, he wanted to enter, but the crab was 
climbing. He came out at once and the boys asked, "Did you not get it?" 

"No," he answered," because he was going up and I almost caught him. But perhaps it would be 
good if I go in from above," he added. And then he entered again from above, but as he was 
almost inside, with only the soles of his feet showing, the great hill slid and fell slowly down on 
his chest. 

Zipacna never returned and he was changed into stone. 

In this way Zipacna was defeated by the two boys, Hunahpii and Xbalanque; he was the elder son 
of Vucub-Caquix, and he, according to the ancient legend, was the one who made the mountains. 

At the foot of the hill called Meaguan he was vanquished. Only by a miracle was he vanquished, 
the second of the arrogant ones. One was left, whose history we shall tell now. 


32:1 Ec, a bromeliaceous plant of large, brilliant leaves which grows on the trees. "A large-leafed 
grass with which the rafters are covered during the feasts," says Basseta. 

32:2 Other smaller leaves called pahac, says Ximenez. 

32:3 The mountain Meaguan rises at the west of the village of Rabinal, in the region of the 
Chixoy River. 

32:4 Qui cumatzih, "their enchantment," according to Brasseur de Bourbourg; "their secret," 
according to Ximenez. Mactzil in Maya is "miracle," "marvel." 

Page 60 of 196 

I. Chapter 9 

1 he third of the arrogant ones was the second son of Vucub-Caquix who was called Cabracan. 
"I demolish the mountains," he said. 

But Hunahpu and Xbalanque also defeated Cabracan. Huracan, Chipi-Caculha, and Raxa-Caculha 
talked and said to Hunahpu and Xbalanque: 

"Let the second son of Vucub-Caquix also be defeated. This is our will, for it is not well what 
they do on earth, exalting their glory, their grandeur, and their power, and it must not be so. Lure 
him to where the sun rises," said Huracan to the two youths. 

"Very well, honored sir," they answered, "because what we see is not right. Do you not exist, you 
who are the peace, you, Heart of Heaven?" said the boys as they listened to the command of 

Meanwhile, Cabracan was busy shaking the mountains. At the gentlest tap of his feet on the earth, 
the large and small mountains opened. Thus the boys found him and asked Cabracan: 

"Where are you going, young man? 

"Nowhere," he answered," here I am moving the mountains, and I am leveling them to the ground 
forever," 1 he answered. 

Then Cabracan asked Hunahpu and Xbalanque, "What did you come to do here? I do not 
recognize you. What are your names?" said Cabracan. 

"We have no names," they answered, "we are nothing more than shooters of blowguns and 
hunters with bird-traps on the mountains. We are poor and we have nothing, young man. We only 
walk over the large and small mountains, young man, and we have just seen a large mountain, 
over there where you see the pink sky. 2 It really rises up very high and overlooks the tops of all 
the hills. So it is that we have not been able to catch even one or two of the birds on it, boy. But, 
is it true that you can level all the mountains?" Hunahpu and Xbalanque asked Cabracan. 

"Have you really seen the mountain of which you speak? Where is it? If I see it, I shall demolish 
it. Where did you see it?" 

"Over there it is, where the sun rises," said Hunahpu and Xbalanque. 

"Very well, show me the road," he said to the two boys. 

"Oh no!" they answered. "We must take you between us. One shall go at your left and the other at 
your right, because we have our blowguns, and if there should be birds we can shoot them." And 

Page 61 of 196 

so they set out happily, trying out their blowguns. But when they shot with them, they did not use 
the clay pellets in the tube of the blowgun; instead they felled the birds only with the puff of air 
when they shot them, which surprised Cabracan very much. 

Then the boys built a fire and put the birds on it to roast, but they rubbed one of the birds with 
chalk, 3 covering it with a white earth soil. 

"We shall give him this," they said, "to whet his appetite with the odor which it gives off. This 
bird of ours shall be his ruin, as we cover this bird with earth so we shall bring him down to the 
earth and bury him in the earth. 

"Great shall be the wisdom of a created being, of a being fashioned, when it dawns, when there is 
light," said the boys. 4 

"As it is natural for man to wish to eat, so Cabracan desires food," said Hunahpii and Xbalanque 
to each other. 

Meanwhile the birds were roasting, they were beginning to turn golden brown, and the fat and 
juice which dripped from them made an appetizing odor. Cabracan wanted very much to eat them; 
they made his mouth water, he yawned, and the saliva and spittle drooled because of the smell 
which the birds gave off. 

Then he asked them: "What is that you eat? The smell is really savoury. Give me a little piece," 
he said to them. 

Then they gave a bird to Cabracan, the one which would be his ruin; and when he had finished 
eating it, they set out toward the east where the great mountain was. But already Cabracan' s legs 
and hands were weakening and he had no strength because of the earth with which the bird he had 
eaten was rubbed, and he could do nothing to the mountains. Neither was it possible to level 

Then the boys tied him, they tied his hands behind him and also tied his neck and his feet 
together. Then they threw him to the ground and there they buried him. 

In this way Cabracan was overcome by Hunahpii and Xbalanque. It would be impossible to tell of 
all the things they did here on earth. 

Now we shall tell of the birth of Hunahpii and Xbalanque, having first told of the destruction of 
Vucub-Caquix and that of Zipacna and of Cabracan, here on earth. 


36:1 Chi be quih, chi be zac literally means "as long as there is sun and light." 

Page 62 of 196 

36:2 Xa qo qu'il caquiyc. Brasseur de Bourbourg and Raynaud translate it "there where large 
precipices are seen." The neuter verb caquer, caquic, means the sky is suffused or is aflame with 
the red light of dawn. 

36:3 Tahcab, in Maya and Quiche, chalk or natural lime cement. 

36:4 Ve nima etamanel hun tzac, hun bit ta ch'auax oc, ta zaquir oc, x-e cha ri qaholab. This 
sentence, says Brasseur de Bourbourg, is extremely confusing and appears to have little relation 
with the history. The sentence is certainly incongruous, but Brasseur de Bourbourg did not 
translate it well either. 

Page 63 of 196 

PART II: Chapter 1 

IN ow we shall also tell the name of the father of Hunahpii and Xbalanque. We shall not tell his 
origin and we shall not tell the history of the birth of Hunahpii and Xbalanque. We shall tell only 
half of it, only a part of the history of his father. 

Here is the story. Here are the names of Hun-Hunahpii [and Vucub-Hunahpii], as they are called. 
Their parents were Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. During the night 1 Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub- 
Hunahpii were born of Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. 2 

Well now, Hun-Hunahpii had begotten two sons; the first was called Hunbatz and the second 
Hunchouen. 3 

The mother of the two sons was called Xbaquiyalo. 4 Thus was the wife of Hun-Hunahpii called. 
As for the other son, Vucub-Hunahpii, he had no wife; he was single. 

By nature these two sons were very wise, and great was their wisdom; on earth they were 
soothsayers of good disposition and good habits. All the arts were taught to Hunbatz and 
Hunchouen, the sons of Hun-Hunahpii They were flautists, singers, shooters with blowguns, 
painters, sculptors, jewelers, silversmiths; these were Hunbatz and Hunchouen. 5 

Well, Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpii did nothing but play dice and ball A day long; and 
when the four got together to play ball, one pair played against the other pair. 

And Voc, s the messenger of Huracan, of Chipi-Caculha, of Raxa-Caculha came there to watch 
them, but Voc did not stay far from the earth nor far from Xibalba, 7 and in an instant he went up 
to heaven to the side of Huracan. 

They were still here on earth when the mother of Hunbatz and Hunchouen died. 

And having gone to play ball on the road to Xibalba, they were overheard by Hun-Came and 
Vucub-Came, the lords of Xibalba. g 

"What are they doing on earth? Who are they who are making the earth shake, and making so 
much noise? Go and call them! Let them come here to play ball. Here we will overpower them! 
We are no longer respected by them. They no longer have consideration, or fear of our rank, and 
they even fight above our heads," said all the lords of Xibalba. 

All of them held a council. Those called Hun-Came and Vucub-Came were the supreme judges. 
All the lords had been assigned their duties. Each one was given his own authority by Hun-Came 
and Vucub-Came. 

They were, then, Xiquiripat and Cuchumaquic 9 lords of these names. They were the two who 
caused the shedding of blood of the men. 

Page 64 of 196 

Others were called Ahalpuh and Ahalgana, 10 also lords. And their work was to make men swell 
and make pus gush forth from their legs 11 and stain their faces yellow, what is called Chuganal. 12 
Such was the work of Ahalpuh and Ahalgana. 

Others were Lord Chamiabac and Lord Chamiaholom, 13 constables of Xibalba whose staffs were 
of bone. Their work was to make men waste away until they were nothing but skin and bone and 
they died, and they carried them With their stomach and bones stretched out. This was the work 
of Chamiabac and Chamiaholom, as they were called. 

Others were called Lord Ahalmez and Lord Ahaltocob; u their work was to bring disaster upon 
men, as they were going home, or in front of it, and they would be found wounded, stretched out, 
face up, on the ground, dead. This was the work of Ahalmez and Ahaltocob, as they were called. 

Immediately after them were other lords named Xic and Patan 15 whose work it was to cause men 
to die on the road, which is called sudden death, making blood to rush to their mouths until they 
died vomiting blood. The work of each one of these lords was to seize upon them, squeeze their 
throats and chests, so that the men died on the road, making the blood rush to their throats when 
they were walking. This was the work of Xic and Patan. 

And having gathered in council, they discussed how to torment and wound Hun-Hunahpu and 
Vucub-Hunahpu. What the Lords of Xibalba coveted were the playing implements of Hun- 
Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu-their leather pads 16 and rings 17 and gloves is and crown 19 and 
masks 20 which were the playing gear of Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpu. 

Now we shall tell of their journey to Xibalba and how they left behind them the sons of Hun- 
Hunahpu, Hunbatz, and [Hun] Chouen, 21 whose mother had died. 

Then we shall tell how Hunbatz and Hunchouen were overcome by Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 


40:1 Chi agabal, that is to say, before there was sun, or moon, or before man had been created. 

40:2 Hun-Hunahpii, 1 Hunahpii; Vucub-Hunahpu, 7 Hunahpii, are two days of the Quiche 
calendar. As is known, the ancient Indians of the Maya area designated the days by putting a 
number before each day, thus forming a series of thirteen days which are repeated without 
interruption until a cycle of 260 days is formed, which the Maya called tzolkin, the Quiche, 
cholquih, and the Mexicans, tonalpohualli. It was the custom to give an individual the name of 
the day upon which he was born. 

The Quiche calendar is made up of twenty days. Each day is preceded by a number, a coefficient 
of from 1 to 13, and this is repeated indefinitely so that a name of a day and the number which 
accompanies it may not be repeated until 260 is reached, or 13 times 20. This period of 260 days 

Page 65 of 196 

constitutes the ritual year, or cholquih. The names of the days and their meaning in English are as 

1. Imox, name of a fish 

2. Ic, moon, wind, spirit 

3. Acbal, night 

4. Cat, net with which to carry corn, or a lizard 

5. Can, serpent 

6. Carney, death 

7. Queh, deer 

8. Canel, wealth, car of yellow corn 

9. Toh, rain, storm 

10. Tzi, dog 

11. Batz, monkey 

12. E, ei, teeth, brush 

13. Ah, cane, or tender corn 

14. Balam, jaguar 

15. Tziquin, bird 

16. Ahmac, owl 

17. Noh, strong, resin 

18. Tihax, edge, obsidian 

19. Caoc, lightning and thunder 

20. Hunahpu, hunter, chief, or lord 

With these twenty days the Quiche formed the following eighteen months: 

1. Tequexepual, time to plant the cornfields 

2. Tzibapop, painted mat 

3. Zac, white like certain flowers 

4. Ch 'ab, muddy ground 

5. Nabey mam, first old man 

6. Ucab mam, second old man (both this and the preceding are months of ill-omen) 

7. Nabey liquin ca, soft and slippery soil 

8. Ucab liquin ca, second month of soft and slippery soil 

9. Nabey pack, first time of hatching 

10. Ucab pack, second time of hatching 

11. Tzizil lakam, the sprouts show 

12. Tziquin kih, season of birds 

13. Cakam, red clouds 

14. Botam, tangled mats 

15. Nabey zih, first month of white flowers 

16. Ucab zih, second month of white flowers 

17. Rox zih, third month of white flowers 

18. Chee, trees, Pariche, in the Cakchiquel calendar 

Page 66 of 196 

Brinton (The Native Calendar of Central America and Mexico) took these and other facts from 
various Indian calendars which date back to the seventeenth century and from the Geografia by 
Francisco Gavarrete. 

40:3 Brasseur de Bourbourg incorrectly translates this passage as follows: Or, ces Hunhun-Ahpu 
etaient deux; ils avaient engendre deux fils legitimes, et le nom du premier ne [etait] Hunbatz et 
Hunchouen le nom du second. As is seen farther on, Hunbatz and Hunchouen were only the sons 
of Hun-Hunahpii and Xbaquiyalo, his wife. Hun-Batz, 1 monkey, is the eleventh day of the 
Quiche calendar; Hun-Chouen, also, 1 Chuen, 1 monkey, is the eleventh day of the Maya 
calendar. Note that, with the exception of the indication that the names of the parents of Hunahpu 
and Xbalanque will be given, these heroes are not mentioned again until their birth is announced 
in Chapter s of Part II. There the other half of the history is told, but in this part the reader is left 
intentionally in the dark. 

40:4 Xbaquiyalo, "of the fastened bones," according to Ximenez. It might also be "of the uneven 

40:5 A chuen, in Maya, means "artisan." Diccionario de Motul. 

40:6 To the place where they played ball, pa horn in the original. Voc or Vac, the hawk, came to 
watch them. In speaking of the Maya of Yucatan, Bishop Landa, says that "they played ball, and 
also with beans they played a game-like dice." 

40:7 Chi-Xibalba. In ancient times, says Father Coto, this name Xibalbay meant the devil, or the 
dead, or visions which appeared to the Indians. It has the same meanings in Yucatan. Xibalba was 
the devil, and xibil is to disappear like a vision or a phantom, according to the Diccionario de 
Motul. The Maya performed a dance which they called Xibalba ocot, or "dance of the demon." 
The Quiche believed that Xibalba was the underground region inhabited by the enemies of man. 

40:8 Hun-Came, 1 dead; Vucub-Came, 7 dead; are days of the calendar. The Quiche hierarchy 
had frequently the numbers one to seven. 

40:9 Xiquiripat, "flying pannier," according to Ximenez. Cuchumaquic, "gathered blood," 
according to the same translator. 

40:10 Ahalpuh, "he who makes pus." Name of a disease among the Cakchiquel. Ahalgand, "he 
who causes dropsy," according to Ximenez. 

40:11 Chipepuh chiri r'acan. 

40:12 Literally, "in the yellow color of his body" (Ximenez); a kind of ictericia. 

40:13 Chamiabac, he who carries a staff of bone. Chamiaholom, he who carries a staff with a 
skull. Both are symbols of emaciation and death. Ahchami, the man of the staff, symbol of 
authority, or of the big stick which the guardians of public order were accustomed to carry. 

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40:14 Ahalmez, "he who makes filth" (Ximenez); "he who works in filth" (Brasseur de 
Bourbourg). Ahaltocob, "he who causes misery" (Ximenez); "he who works or produces misery" 
(Brasseur de Bourbourg). it might be he who causes wounds, the assassin. The verb toe means "to 
punch or stab," to wound, to behead. Tocope has the same meaning. 

40:15 Xic, hawk; Patdn, leather band which the Indians wear around their foreheads and from 
which the load they carry on their backs hangs. It is known today by the Mexican name mecapal. 
Many of these names are found in the Vocabulario de las lenguas Quiche y Kakchiquel which 
classifies them as "names of demons," explaining that they are derived from Ahau, "lord"; 
Ahalpuh, Calel Ahau, Ahal Tocol, Ahal Xic, Ahal Canya. The last is evidently the Ahalgana of 
the Popol Vuh. Father Pantaleon de Guzman says that, among other deities, the Cakchiquel 
worshiped Ahal Puh, Ahal Tecob, Ahal Xic and Ahal Canya— all of these in reality are also names 
of diseases; and in addition they worshiped Tatan bak and Tatan holom, father of bones and father 
of skulls, gods of death. These last names, as will be seen later, are not very different from 
Chamiabac and Chamiaholom. Ahal Puh seems to be the same god of death as that of the Maya of 
Yucatan, who knew him under the name of Ah Puch or Hunhau, and who had his kingdom in 
Mitnal or the Maya inferno. 

40:16 Tzuun, leather leggings, according to Ximenez. They were the leathers with which they 
covered their legs and thus protected them against blows by the hall. 

40:17 Bate, rings, collar for the neck (Vocabulario Quiche-Cakchiquel). 

40:18 Pachgab, gloves. 

40:19 Yachvach, crown, or adornment which they wore on the head. 

40:20 Vachzot, rim of the face, according to Ximenez, "mask." All of these objects were 
necessities for their strenuous ball game, and as decorations for the ball players. 

40:21 Like this in the original, by Hun-Chouen. 

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II. Chapter 2 

1 he messengers of Hun-Came and Vucub-Came arrived immediately. 

"Go, Ahpop Achih!" 1 they were told. "Go and call Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpu. Say to 
them, 'Come with us. The lords say that you must come.' They must come here to play ball with 
us so that they shall make us happy, for really they amaze us. So, then, they must come," said the 
lords. "And have them bring their playing gear, their rings, their gloves, and have them bring their 
rubber balls, too," said the lords. "Tell them to come quickly," they told the messengers. 

And these messengers were owls: Chabi-Tucur, Huracan-Tucur, Caquix-Tucur and Holom- 
Tucur. 2 These were the names of the messengers of Xibalba. 

Chabi-Tucur was swift as an arrow; Huracan-Tucur had only one leg; Caquix-Tucur had a red 
back, and Holom-Tucur had only a head, no legs, but he had wings. 

The four messengers had the rank of Ahpop-Achih. Leaving Xibalba, they arrived quickly, 
bringing their message to the court where Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpu were playing ball, 
at the ball-court which was called Nim-Xob-Carchah. 3 The owl messengers went directly to the 
ball-court and delivered their message exactly as it was given to them by Hun-Came, Vucub- 
Came, Ahalpuh, Ahalgana, Chamiabac, Chamiaholom, Xiquiripat, Cuchumaquic, Ahalmez, 
Ahaltocob, Xic, and Patan, as the lords were called who sent the message by the owls. 

"Did the Lords Hun-Came and Vucub-Came really say that we must go with you?" 

"They certainly said so, and 'Let them bring all their playing gear,' the lords said." 

"Very well," said the youths. "Wait for us, we are only going to say good-bye to our mother." 

And having gone straight home, they said to their mother, for their father was dead: "We are 
going, our mother, but our going is only for a while, a The messengers of the lord have come to 
take us. 'They must come,' they said, according to the messengers. 

"We shall leave our ball here in pledge," 5 they added. They went immediately to hang it in the 
space under the rooftree. "We will return to play," they said. 

And going to Hunbatz and Hunchouen they said to them: "Keep on playing the flute and singing, 
painting, and carving; warm our house and warm the heart of your grandmother." 

When they took leave of their mother, Xmucane was moved and burst into tears. "Do not worry, 
we are going, but we have not died yet," said Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpu as they left. 

Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpu went immediately and the messengers took them on the road. 
Thus they were descending the road to Xibalba, by some very steep stairs. They went down until 

Page 69 of 196 

they came to the bank of a river which flowed rapidly between the ravines called Nuzivdn cul and 
Cuzivdn, § and crossed it. Then they crossed the river which flows among thorny calabash trees, z 
There were very many calabash trees, but they passed through them without hurting themselves. 

Then they came to the bank of a river of blood and crossed it without drinking its waters; they 
only went to the river bank and so they were not overcome. They went on until they came to 
where four roads joined, and there at the crossroads they were overcome. 

One of the four roads was red, another black, another white, and another yellow. And the black 
road said to them: "I am the one you must take because I am the way of the Lord." So said the 

And from here on they were already overcome. They were taken over the road to Xibalba and 
when they arrived at the council room of the Lords of Xibalba, they had already lost the match. 

Well, the first ones who were seated there were only figures of wood, arranged by the men of 
Xibalba. These they greeted first: 

"How are you, Hun-Came?" they said to the wooden man. "How are you, Vucub-Came?" they 
said to the other wooden man. But they did not answer, instantly the Lords of Xibalba burst into 
laughter and all the other lords began to laugh loudly, because they already took for granted the 
downfall and defeat of Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu. And they continued to laugh. 

Then Hun-Came and Vucub-Came spoke: "Very well," they said. "You have come. Tomorrow 
you shall prepare the mask, g your rings, and your gloves," they said. 

"Come and sit down on our bench," they said. But the bench which they offered them was of hot 
stone, and when they sat down they were burned. They began to squirm around on the bench, and 
if they had not stood up they would have burned their seats. 

The Lords of Xibalba burst out laughing again; they were dying of laughter; they writhed from 
pain in their stomach, in their blood, and in their bones, caused by their laughter, all the Lords of 
Xibalba laughed. 

"Go now to that house," they said. "There you will get your sticks of fat pine 9 and your cigar 10 
and there you shall sleep." 

Immediately they arrived at the House of Gloom, u There was only darkness within the house. 
Meanwhile the Lords of Xibalba discussed what they should do. 

"Let us sacrifice them tomorrow, let them die quickly, quickly, so that we can have their playing 
gear to use in play," said the Lords of Xibalba to each other. 

Well, their fat-pine sticks were round and were called zaquitoc, which is the pine of Xibalba. 12 
Their fat-pine sticks were pointed and filed and were as bright as bone; the pine of Xibalba was 
very hard. 

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Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpii entered the House of Gloom. There they were given their fat- 
pine sticks, a single lighted stick which Hun-Came and Vucub-Came sent them, together with a 
lighted cigar for each of them which the lords had sent. They went to give them to Hun-Hunahpii 
and Vucub-Hunahpii. 

They found them crouching in the darkness when the porters arrived with the fat-pine sticks and 
the cigars. As they entered, the pine sticks lighted the place brightly. 

"Each of you light your pine sticks and your cigars; come and bring them back at dawn, you must 
not burn them up, but you must return them whole; this is what the lords told us to say." So they 
said. And so they were defeated. They burned up the pine sticks, and they also finished the cigars 
which had been given to them. 

There were many punishments in Xibalba; the punishments were of many kinds. 

The first was the House of Gloom, Quequma-ha, in which there was only darkness. 

The second was Xuxulim-ha, the house where everybody shivered, in which it was very cold. A 
cold, unbearable wind blew within. 

The third was the House of Jaguars, Balami-ha, it was called, in which there were nothing but 
jaguars which stalked about, jumped around, roared, and made fun. The jaguars were shut up in 
the house. 

Zotzi-ha, the House of Bats, the fourth place of punishment was called. Within this house there 
were nothing but bats which squeaked and cried and flew around and around. The bats were shut 
in and could not get out. 

The fifth was called Chayim-ha, the House of Knives, 13 in which there were only sharp, pointed 
knives, silent or grating against each other in the house. 

There were many places of torture in Xibalba, 14 but Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpii did not 
enter them. We only mention the names of these houses of punishment. 

When Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpii came before Hun-Came and Vucub-Came, they said: 
"Where are my cigars? Where are my sticks of fat pine which I gave you last night?" 

"They are all gone, Sir." 

"Well. Today shall be the end of your days. Now you shall die. You shall be destroyed, we will 
break you into pieces and here your faces will stay hidden. You shall be sacrificed," said Hun- 
Came and Vucub-Came. 

They sacrificed them immediately and buried them in the Pucbal-Chah, as it was called. 15 Before 
burying them, ig they cut off the head of Hun-Hunahpii and buried the older brother together with 
the younger brother. 

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"Take the head and put it in that tree which is Planted on the road," said Hun-Came and Vucub- 
Came. And having put the head in the tree, instantly the tree, which had never borne fruit before 
the head of Hun-Hunahpii was placed among its branches, was covered with fruit. And this 
calabash tree, it is said, is the one which we now call the head of Hun-Hunahpu. 

Hun-Came and Vucub-Came looked in amazement at the fruit on the tree. The round fruit was 
everywhere; but they did not recognize the head of Hun-Hunahpu; it was exactly like the other 
fruit of the calabash tree. So it seemed to all of the people of Xibalba when they came to look at 

According to their judgment, the tree was miraculous, because of what had instantly occurred 
when they put Hun-Hunahpu' s head among its branches. And the Lords of Xibalba said: 

"Let no one come to pick this fruit, n Let no one come and sit under this tree!" they said, and so 
the Lords of Xibalba resolved to keep everybody away. 

The head of Hun-Hunahpii did not appear again is because it had become one and the same as the 
fruit of the gourd tree. Nevertheless, a girl heard the wonderful story. Now we shall tell about her 


48:1 Title of some of the Quiche lords and chiefs. 

48:2 Chabi-Tucur, swift owl; Huracdn-Tucur, owl with one leg, or gigantic owl; Caquix-Tucur, 
macaw owl; Holom-Tucur, head of an owl, or owl distinguished by the head. Tucur is the Quiche 
name for owl. A town of Verapaz, San Miguel Tucuru, is also so named. This night bird is known 
in Guatemala by the name of tucuru and also as tecolote, from the Nahuati tecolotl. Dr. Otto Stoll 
(Die Maya Sprachen der Pokom-Gruppe) suggests that the name which the Mexicans gave to 
Verapaz was Tecolotlan, or place of owls or tecolotes, i. e., the land of the tucur, and that the 
Spanish missionaries, through an error, wrote it Tecolotlan, which later was changed to 
Tezulutlan. The name Verapaz was given to that province after its peaceful conquest by the 
Dominican friars. In fact, Ixtlilxochiti says that the Tolteca emigrated to the south to Guatemala 
and Tecolotlan, and Sahagun (Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espaha, Vol. Ill, Book XI, 
Chap. II, p. 163) notes that the quetzal lives "In the province called Tecolotlan, which is toward 
Honduras, or near." 

48:3 The great Carchah, an important center of population in Verapaz, the region in which the 
Quiche seem to have placed the mythological deeds of the Popol Vuh. The Cakchiquel 
Manuscript says that they and the Quiche went to populate Subinal, in the middle of Chacachil, to 
the middle of Nimxor, to the middle of Moinal, to the middle of Carchah (nicah Carchah). Some 
of these places still retain their ancient names today and may easily be identified in the Verapaz 
region. According to the Cakchiquel document, Nim Xor and Carchah were two different places. 

Page 72 of 196 

48:4 Which is to say, "that they go, but they will return." 

48:5 X-chi canah cu cand va ca quic. Here is a play on words; canah is to "stay," and cand 
"pledges" "hostage," or "captive." 

48:6 Nu zivan cul, "my ravine," or "the narrow ravine." Cu zivan, narrow, close ravine." Zivan is 
"ravine," but the underground caves in Verapaz and the Peten are also called Zivan. The 
topographical data included in this chapter as well as similar indications found in other passages 
in Part II show that the ancient Quiche had very definite ideas about the location of the kingdom 
of Xibalba, where lived some cruel, despotic chiefs to whom they were subject in mythological 
time, in the present chapter, the large town of Carchah, which still stands a few miles from Coban, 
capital of the department of Alta Verapaz, is named as the crossroads of the way to Xibalba. 
Leaving Carchah, the road leads down "by some very steep steps" until it comes to the ravines or 
caves, between which a swift river flows; which is to say, descending the mountains of the 
interior to the lowlands of the Peten, to the territory of the Itza. At the end of Part II it is said that 
the people of Xibalba were the Ah-Tza, the Ah-Tucur, the evil ones, the owls. Nevertheless, these 
words may also be read as "those of Itza [Peten]" and "those of Tucur," or Tecolotlan, the land of 
the owls (Verapaz). They are the two regions of northern Guatemala, very well known in the 
ancient Middle American world, over which the Quiche could not extend their conquests. These 
names confirm the topographical references in the text. Some of the tribes, which in relatively 
recent times came to establish themselves in the mountains of the interior of Guatemala, without 
doubt believed that the northern territory was inhabited by their old enemies, the same who, in 
former times, had taken the lives of their forefathers. These inhabitants of the north were the 
Maya of the Old Empire, one branch of which, the Itza, was the last to surrender to the Spaniards 
in the later years of the seventeenth century. Other scattered data in the Popol Vuh reveal that 
Xibalba was a very deep, underground place, an abyss from which one had to climb up in order to 
come to the earth; but the same Quiche document explains that the Lords of Xibalba were not 
gods, nor were they immortals, that they were false of heart, hypocrites, envious, and tyrants. That 
they were not invincible is shown in the course of the narrative. 

48:7 Chupan halhal ha zimah. The Quiche word Zimah corresponds to the tree and fruit which the 
Mexican Indians call Xicalli, and in Guatemala is called jicaro. It is a tree of the Bignonia family, 
Crescentia cujete. The round or oval shaped fruit of this tree has a hard rind from which the 
Indians make vases called jicaras and guacales. 

48:8 Chuvec ch'y qaza u vach, in the original. In the text transcribed by Brasseur de Bourbourg it 
is ch'y qaza a vach. The change of a single vowel makes the sentence incomprehensible. Schuller 
("Das Popol Vuh und das Ballspiel der K'ice Indianer von Guatemala") believed that it had been 
garbled by the French translator. 

48:9 Chah in Quiche, ocotl in the Mexican language. A resinous pine which the Indians use for 

48:10 Ziq, tobacco; zikar, to smoke. 

Page 73 of 196 

48:11 Qequma-ha. Brasseur de Bourbourg compares this House of Gloom with the dark house 
which Votan constructed in Huehuetlan, in the province of Soconusco, according to Bishop 
Nunez de la Vega. 

48:12 Are curi qui chah xa coloquic cha zaquitoc u bi ri chah u chah Xibalba. Zaquitoc, literally, 
is "white knife." Brasseur de Bourbourg translates it blanc silex. Seler is of the opinion that 
zaquitoc was the knife used in human sacrifice to open the breasts of the victims. The description 
in the text clearly identifies the hard, bright flint point which both the ancient Maya and Quiche 
used, as a short, sharp weapon, as knives, lance points, and so on. The author plays here with the 
words cha, flint and obsidian, and chah, fat-pine sticks, etc. The purpose of this confusion and the 
true explanation of this entire paragraph is evidently to remember that the guests of Xibalba were 
threatened with the sacrificial knife. 

48:13 Chay, obsidian, glassy substance, black volcanic stone, the "stone of lightning" of the 
peasants; from it the Indians selected small sharp pieces which they used as knives, razors, and 
arrow points. 

48:14 Quii nabec u dhobal Xibalba. Ximenez thus interprets this sentence, and this is its logical 

48:15 Ta x-e puz cut, x-e muc cut chi Pucbal-Chah u bi. Ximenez (Historia de la Provincia de San 
Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala) translates this name as "the place where the ashes are dumped." 
Brasseur de Bourbourg translates it "the ash-pan." It seems evident that there is an error in 
transcription here and that the name of this place must have been Puzbal-Chah, that is, the place 
of sacrifice of the ball game. Puzbal is "place of sacrifice," according to Basseta, and chah is the 
game of ball. Raynaud also gives this last interpretation. 

48:16 X-e muc vi, a phrase in the original, which is missing in the text which Brasseur de 
Bourbourg publishes. 

48:17 Ma qo ma chupuvic ri u vach. Brasseur de Bourbourg does not translate this sentence, 
although it is present in the original, as well as in the text which he publishes. 

48:18 Ma cu calah chiri u holom Hunhun-Ahpu. 

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II. Chapter 3 

1 his is the story of a maiden, the daughter of a lord named Cuchumaquic. 

A maiden, then, daughter of a lord heard this story. The name of the father was Cuchumaquic and 
that of the maiden was Xquic. 1 When she heard the story of the fruit of the tree which her father 
told, she was amazed to hear it. 

"Why can I not go to see this tree which they tell about?" the girl exclaimed. "Surely the fruit of 
which I hear tell must be very good." Finally she went alone and arrived at the foot of the tree 
which was planted in Pucbal-Chah. 

"Ah!" she exclaimed. "What fruit is this which this tree bears? Is it not wonderful to see how it is 
covered with fruit? Must I die, shall I be lost, if I pick one of this fruit?" said the maiden. 

Then the skull which was among the branches of the tree spoke up and said: "What is it you wish? 
Those round objects which cover the branches of the trees are nothing but skulls." So spoke the 
head of Hun-Hunahpu turning to the maiden. "Do you, perchance, want them?" it added. 

"Yes, I want them," the maiden answered. 

"Very well," said the skull. "Stretch your right hand up here." 

"Very well," said the maiden, and with her right hand reached toward the skull. 

In that instant the skull let a few drops of spittle fall directly into the maiden's palm. She looked 
quickly and intently at the palm of her hand, but the spittle of the skull was not there. 

"In my saliva and spittle I have given you my descendants," said the voice in the tree. "Now my 
head has nothing on it any more, it is nothing but a skull without flesh. So are the heads of the 
great princes, the flesh is all which gives them a handsome appearance. And when they die, men 
are frightened by their bones. So, too, is the nature of the sons, which are like saliva and spittle, 
they may be sons of a lord, of a wise man, or of an orator. 2 They do not lose their substance when 
they go, but they bequeath it; the image of the lord, of the wise man, or of the orator does not. 
disappear, nor is it lost, but he leaves it to the daughters and to the sons which he begets. I have 
done the same with you. Go up, then, to the surface of the earth, that you may not die. Believe in 
my words that it will be so," said the head of Hun-Hunahpu and of Vucub-Hunahpu. 3 

And all that they did together was by order of Huracan, Chipi-Caculha, and Raxa-Caculha. 

After all of the above talking, the maiden returned directly to her home, having immediately 
conceived the sons in her belly by virtue of the spittle only. And thus Hunahpii and Xbalanque 
were begotten. 

Page 75 of 196 

And so the girl returned home, and after six months had passed, her father, who was called 
Cuchumaquic, noticed her condition. At once the maiden's secret was discovered by her father 
when he observed that she was pregnant, a 

Then the lords, Hun-Came and Vucub-Came, held council with Cuchumaquic. 

"My daughter is pregnant, 5 Sirs; she has been disgraced," § exclaimed Cuchumaquic when he 
appeared before the lords. 

"Very well," they said. "Command her to tell the truth, 7 and if she refuses to speak, punish her; 
let her be taken far from here and sacrifice her." 

"Very well, Honorable Lords," he answered. Then he questioned his daughter: 

"Whose are the children that you carry, my daughter?" 8 And she answered, "I have no child, my 
father, for I have not yet known a youth." 9 

'Very well," he replied. "You are really a whore. Take her and sacrifice her, Ahpop Achih; bring 
me her heart in a gourd and return this very day before the lords," he said to the two owls. 

The four messengers took the gourd and set out carrying the young girl in their arms and also 
taking the knife of flint with which to sacrifice her. 10 

And she said to them: "It cannot be that you will kill me, oh, messengers, because what I bear in 
my belly is no disgrace, but was begotten when I went to marvel at the head of Hun-Hunahpu 
which was in Pucbal-Chah. So, then, you must not sacrifice me, oh, messengers!" said the young 
girl, turning to them. 

"And what shall we put in place of your heart? Your father told us: 'Bring the heart, return before 
the lords, do your duty, all working together, bring it in the gourd quickly, 11 and put the heart in 
the bottom of the gourd.' Perchance, did he not speak to us so? What shall we put in the gourd? 
We wish too, that you should not die," said the messengers. 

"Very well, but my heart does not belong to them. Neither is your home here, nor must you let 
them force you to kill men. 12 Later, in truth, the real criminals will be at your mercy and I will 
overcome Hun-Came and Vucub-Came. So, then, the blood and only the blood shall be theirs and 
shall be given to them. 13 Neither shall my heart be burned before them. 14 Gather the product of 
this tree," said the maiden. 

The red sap gushing forth from the tree fell in the gourd and with it they made a ball which 
glistened and took the shape of a heart. The tree gave forth sap similar to blood, with the 
appearance of real blood. Then the blood, or that is to say the sap of the red tree, clotted, and 
formed a very bright coating inside the gourd, like clotted blood; meanwhile the tree glowed at 
the work of the maiden. It was called the "red tree of cochineal," 15 but [since then] it has taken 
the name of Blood Tree because its sap is called Blood, ig 

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"There on earth you shall be beloved and you shall have all that belongs to you," said the maiden 
to the owls. 

"Very well, girl. We shall go there, we go up to serve you; you, continue on your way, while we 
go to present the sap, instead of your heart, to the lords," said the messengers. 

When they arrived in the presence of the lords, all were waiting. 

"You have finished?" asked Hun-Came. 

"All is finished, my lords. Here in the bottom of the gourd is the heart." 

"Very well. Let us see," exclaimed Hun-Came. And grasping it with his fingers he raised it, the 
shell broke and the blood flowed bright red in color. 

"Stir up the fire and put it on the coals," said Hun-Came. 

As soon as they threw it on the fire, the men of Xibalba began to sniff and drawing near to it, they 
found the fragrance of the heart very sweet. 

And as they sat deep in thought, the owls, the maiden's servants, left, and flew like a flock of 
birds from the abyss toward earth and the four became her servants. 

In this manner the Lords of Xibalba were defeated. All were tricked by the maiden. 


53:1 Cuchumaquic, gathered blood; Xquic, little blood, or blood of a woman. 

53:2 Naol, Ahuchan, "orator" title of one of the officials who served in the court and who were 
called Lolmay, Atzihuinac, Galel, and Ahuchan. They were the agents, accountants, and 
treasurers, according to the text of the Petition de los principales de Santiago Atitldn al Rey 
Felipe II, insert in Ternaux Compans, Recueil de pieces relatives a la conquete du Mexique 
(Paris, 1838), 415. Naoh ah uchan, "he who knows," master of discourse, according to Father 
Pantaleon de Guzman. 

53:3 There was only the head of Hun-Hunahpu. As will be noted, this passage reminds one of the 
Mexican myth of the birth of Huitzilopochtii, the Aztec god of war, who was begotten by a little 
ball of feathers which fell on his mother, Coatlicue, who in turn placed it on her breast and "from 
which she became pregnant," according to Sahagun (Historia general de las cosas de Nueva 
Espana, Book III, Chap. I). 

53:4 Ta x-il ri r'al, literally, "when he saw the son." 

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53:5 Qo chi r'al, literally, "she is with child." 

53:6 Xa u hoxbal, literally, "is nothing more than a prostitute." 

53:7 Ch'a qoto u chi ri, literally, "search her mouth." 

53:8 Apa ahchoc e ri av'al qo ch' a pam, at nu meal? 

53:9 Ma-habi achih v'etaam u vach. "I have not known the face of a man." 

53:10 The Zaquitoc, the flint knife used to open the breast of the victim sacrificed to the Indian 

53:11 Ch'anim ch'y cama ulocpa zel. 

53:12 Ma cu xa ch'y chih vinac chi camic. 

53:13 Xa quic xa holomax rech ch'uxoc are chicut chuvach. Ximenez translates this difficult 
passage thus: "Only the blood and skull shall be theirs." The sentence contains the possessive 
pronoun, singular, following the custom of the Quiche writer to consider as only one person the 
group of two, in this case Hun-Came and Vucub-Came. The word holomax is not found in the 
Tesoro by Ximenez, nor in the other Quiche and Cakchiquel vocabularies which I have consulted; 
but it is very similar to the Maya word yolomal, which is a compound of o'om, "blood" in the 
ancient Maya of Yucatan. Yo omal uinic, "blood of man," the Diccionario de Motul. It is possible, 
therefore, that holomax may be derivative of the Maya o'om, yolomal, a synonym for "blood," 
and for that reason the author, who was very fond of using synonyms, employs it here to give 
emphasis to the language. 

53:14 Although it had not been mentioned before, Xquic knew very well that the lords wanted her 
heart in order to burn it. This was an ancient custom of the Maya. Father Landa says that in the 
month Mac "they threw the hearts of birds into the fire to burn them, and if they had no large 
animals, such as jaguars, pumas, or alligators, they made hearts with incense (pom or copal); and 
if there were animals and they killed them, they brought their hearts for that fire." 

53:15 Chuh Cakche. The tree which the Mexicans called ezquahuitl, "tree of blood," and which 
the Europeans also know by the name "blood," Sangre de Dragon, Croton sanguifluus, a tropical 
plant, the sap of which has the color and density of blood. Vasquez de Espinosa describes it as 
follows: "There is another tree in this province of Chiapa and of Guatemala which is called 
dragon. They are tall like almonds, the leaf is white and the stem is of the same color, and if a 
knife is stuck into the tree anywhere it weeps blood which looks as natural as though it were 
human." Compendio y Description de las Indias Occidentales, Part I, Book V. In the Relation of 
his expedition to the Peten, Father Agustin Cano, cited by Ximenez (Historia de la Provincia de 
San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala, III, 17), says that to the north of Cahabon in Verapaz, "there 
are certain large trees which, when they are pierced, bleed like the dragon, and in the language of 
Cahabon they are called Pilix, and in chol Cancante." 

Page 78 of 196 

53:16 Rumal quic holomax ch'u chaxic. Here the words which we have examined in a previous 
note are repeated, but in a slightly different sense. Quic is blood, the sap and resin of a tree, 
especially of the India rubber, or elastic rubber, which the ancient Maya and Quiche sometimes 
used as incense for their gods. The ball with which they played was also called quic. The name of 
the heroine of this episode was likewise Xquic, that of the feminine blood, or that of elastic 
rubber. Brasseur de Bourbourg (1869) calls it "/a vierge Xquic, celle de la gomme elastique." 

Page 79 of 196 

II. Chapter 4 

W ell, then, Hunbatz and Hunchouen were with their mother 1 when the woman called Xquic 

When the woman Xquic came before the mother of Hunbatz and Hunchouen, 2 she carried her 
sons in her belly and it was not long before Hunahpu and Xbalanque, as they were called, were to 
be born. 

When the woman came to the old lady, she said to her: "I have come, mother; I am your daughter- 
in-law and your daughter, mother." She said this when she entered the grandmother's house. 

"Where did you come from? Where are my sons? Did they, perchance, not die in Xibalba? Do 
you not see these two who remain, their descendants and blood, and are called Hunbatz and 
Hunchouen. Go from here! Get out!" the old lady screamed at the girl. 

"Nevertheless, it is true that I am your daughter-in-law; I have been for a long time. I belong to 
Hun-Hunahpii. They live in what I carry, Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpii are not dead; they 
will return to show themselves clearly, my mother-in-law. And you shall soon see their image in 
what I bring to you," she said to the old woman. 

Then Hunbatz and Hunchouen became angry. They did nothing but play the flute and sing, paint, 
and sculpture all day long and were the consolation of the old woman. 

Then the old woman said: 

"I do not wish you to be my daughter-in-law, because what you bear in your womb is fruit of your 
disgrace. Furthermore, you are an impostor; my sons of whom you speak are already dead." 

Presently the grandmother added: "This, that I tell you is the truth; but well, it is all right, you are 
my daughter-in-law, according to what I have heard. Go, then, bring the food for those who must 
be fed. Go and gather a large net [full of corn] and return at once, since you are my daughter-in- 
law, according to what I hear," she said to the girl. 

"Very well," the girl replied, and she went at once to the cornfield 3 which Hunbatz and 
Hunchouen had planted. They had opened the road and the girl took it and so came to the 
cornfield; but she found only one stalk of corn; there were not two or three, and when she saw 
that there was only one stalk with an ear on it, the girl became very anxious. 

"Ah, sinner that I am, unfortunate me! Where must I go to get a net full of corn 4 as she told me to 
do?" she exclaimed. Immediately she began to beg Chahal 5 for the food which she had to get and 
must take back. 

Page 80 of 196 

"Xtoh, Xcanil, Xcacau, 6 you who cook the corn; and you, Chahal, guardian of the food of 
Hunbatz and Hunchouen!" said the girl. And then she seized the beards, the red silk of the ears of 
corn and pulled them off without picking the ear. Then she arranged the silk in the net like ears of 
corn and the large net was completely filled. 

The girl returned immediately; the animals of the field went along carrying the net, and when they 
arrived, they went to put the load in a corner of the house, as though she might have carried it. 
The old woman came and when she saw the corn in the large net she exclaimed: 

"Where have you brought all this corn from? Did you, perchance, take all the corn in our field and 
bring it all in? I shall go at once to see," said the old woman, and she set out on the road to the 
cornfield. But the one stalk of corn was still standing there, and she saw too where the net had 
been at the foot of the stalk. 7 The old woman quickly returned to her house and said to the girl: 

"This is proof enough that you are really my daughter-in-law. I shall now see your little ones, 
those whom you carry and who also are to be soothsayers," 2 she said to the girl. 


56:1 The grandmother of these boys, who also acted as a mother to them. 

56:2 In transcribing the Quiche text, Brasseur de Bourbourg omitted several words at this point, 
thinking, perhaps, that it was unnecessary to repeat them. The complete text is as follows: Arecut 
e qo ri u chuch Hunbatz, Hunchouen, ta x-ul ri ixoc Xquic u bi. Ta x-ul cut ri ixoc Xquic ruq ri u 
chuch Hunbatz, Hunchouen. 

56:3 Milpa, field planted with corn; the same name is also given to a stalk of corn. 

56:4 Echd, food, nourishment, particularly corn. 

56:5 Guardian of the cornfields. 

56:6 Brasseur de Bourbourg interprets these names as follows: Xtoh, goddess of rain; Xcanil, 
goddess of gram (from ganel, stalk of yellow corn); and Xcacau, goddess of cacao. 

56:7 U qolibal cat chuxe. Neither Brasseur de Bourbourg nor Ximenez translated chuxe, "at the 
foot of" 

56:8 E nauinac chic, sages, magicians, or soothsayers in Quiche. 

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II. Chapter 5 

IN ow we shall tell of the birth of Hunahpii and Xbalanque. Here, then, we shall tell about their 

When the day of their birth arrived, the girl named Xquic gave birth; but the grandmother did not 
see them when they were born. Instantly the two boys called Hunahpii and Xbalanque were born. 
There in the wood they were born. 

Then they came to the house, but they could not sleep. 

"Go throw them out! "said the old woman, "because truly they cry very much." Then they went 
and put them on an ant-hill. There they slept peacefully. Then they took them from the ant-hill 
and laid them on thistles. 

Now, what Hunbatz and Hunchouen wished was that they [Hunahpii and Xbalanque] would die 
there on the ant-hill, or on the thistles. They wished this because of the hatred and envy 1 Hunbatz 
and Hunchouen felt for them. 

At first they refused to receive their younger brothers in the house; they would not recognize them 
and so they were brought up in the fields. 

Hunbatz and Hunchouen were great musicians and singers; they had grown up in the midst of 
trials and want and they had had much trouble, but they became very wise. They were flautists, 
singers, painters, and carvers; all of this they knew how to do. 

They had heard about their birth and knew also that they were the successors of their parents, 
those who went to Xibalba and died there. Hunbatz and Hunchouen were diviners, and in their 
hearts they knew everything concerning the birth of their two younger brothers. Nevertheless, 
because they were envious, they did not show their wisdom, and their hearts were filled with bad 
will for them, although Hunahpii and Xbalanque had not offended them in any way. 

These two [last] did nothing all day long but shoot their blowguns; they were not loved by their 
grandmother, nor by Hunbatz, nor by Hunchouen; they were given nothing to eat; only when the 
meal was ended and Hunbatz and Hunchouen had already eaten, then the younger brothers came 
to eat. But they did not become angry, nor did they become vexed, but suffered silently, because 
they knew their rank, and they understood everything clearly. 2 They brought their birds when 
they came, and Hunbatz and Hunchouen ate them without giving anything to either of the two, 
Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

The only thing that Hunbatz and Hunchouen did was to play the flute and sing. 

And once when Hunahpii and Xbalanque came without bringing any bird at all, they went into the 
house and their grandmother became furious. 

Page 82 of 196 

"Why did you bring no birds?" she said to Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

And they answered: "What happened, grandmother, is that our birds were caught in the tree and 
we could not climb up to get them, dear grandmother. If our elder brothers so wish, let them come 
with us to bring the birds down," they said. 

"Very well," the older brothers answered, "we shall go with you at dawn." 

The two younger brothers then discussed the way to overcome Hunbatz and Hunchouen. 3 "We 
shall only change their nature, their appearance; and so let our word be fulfilled, 4 for all the 
suffering that they have caused us. They wanted us to die, that we might be lost, we, their younger 
brothers. In their hearts 5 they really believe that we have come to be their servants. For these 
reasons we shall overcome them and teach them a lesson." Thus they spoke. 

Then they went toward the foot of the tree called Cante. § They were accompanied by their two 
elder brothers and they were shooting their blowguns. It was not possible to count the birds which 
sang in the tree, and their elder brothers marveled to see so many birds. There were birds, but not 
one fell at the foot of the tree. 

"Our birds do not fall to the ground. Go and fetch them down," they said to their elder brothers. 

"Very well," the latter answered. And then they climbed the tree; but the tree became larger and 
the trunk swelled. Then Hunbatz and Hunchouen wanted to come down but they could not come 
down from the top of the tree. 

Then they called from the treetop. "What has happened to us, our brothers? Unfortunate we. This 
tree frightens us only to look at it. Oh, our brothers!" they called from the treetop. And Hunahpii 
and Xbalanque answered: "Loosen your breechclouts; 7 tie them below your stomach, leaving the 
long ends hanging and pull these from behind, and in this way you can walk easily." Thus said the 
younger brothers. 

"Very well," they answered, pulling the ends of their belts back, but instantly these were changed 
into tails and they took on the appearance of monkeys. Then they hopped over the branches of the 
trees, among the great woods and little woods, and they buried themselves in the forest, making 
faces and swinging in the branches of the trees. 

In this way Hunbatz and Hunchouen were overcome by Hunahpii and Xbalanque; and only 
because of their magic could they have done it. 

Then they returned to their home, and when they arrived they spoke to their grandmother and 
their mother, and said to them: "What could it be, grandmother, that has happened to our elder 
brothers, that suddenly their faces turned into the faces of animals?" So they said. 

"If you have done any harm to your elder brothers, you have hurt me and have filled me with 
sadness. Do not do such a thing to your brothers, oh, my children," said the old woman to 
Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

Page 83 of 196 

And they replied to their grandmother: 

"Do not grieve, our grandmother. You shall see our brother's faces again; they shall return, but it 
will be a difficult trial for you, grandmother. Be careful that you do not laugh at them. And now, 
let us cast our lot," they said. 

Immediately they began to play their flutes, playing the song of Hunahpu-Qoy. § Then they sang, 
playing the flute and drum, picking up their flutes and their drum. Afterward they sat down close 
to their grandmother and continued playing and calling back [their brothers] with music and song, 
intoning the song, called Hunahpu-Qoy. 

At last, Hunbatz and Hunchouen came and began to dance; but when the old woman saw their 
ugly faces, she began to laugh, unable to control her laughter, and they went away at once and she 
did not see their faces again. 

"Now you see, grandmother! They have gone to the forest. What have you done, grandmother of 
ours? We may make this trial but four times and only three are left. Let us call them [back again] 
with flute and with song, but you, try to control your laughter. Let the trial begin!" said Hunahpii 
and Xbalanque. 

Immediately they began again to play. Hunbatz and Hunchouen returned dancing, and came as far 
as the center of the court of the house 9 grimacing and provoking their grandmother to laughter, 
until finally she broke into loud laughter. They were really very amusing with their monkey faces, 
their broad bottoms, their narrow tails, and the hole of their stomach. 10 all of which made the old 
woman laugh. 

Again the [elder brothers] went back to the woods. And Hunahpii and Xbalanque said: "And now 
what shall we do, grandmother? We shall try once again, this third time." 

They played the flute again, and the monkeys returned dancing. The grandmother contained her 
laughter. Then they went up over the kitchen; their eyes gave off a red light; they drew away and 
scrubbed their noses and frightened each other with the faces they made. 

And as the grandmother saw all of this, she burst into violent laughter; and they did not see the 
faces [of the elder brothers] again because of the old woman's laughter. 

"Only once more shall we call them, grandmother, so that they shall come for the fourth time," 
said the boys. They began again, then, to play the flute, but [their brothers] did not return the 
fourth time, instead they fled into the forest as quickly as they could. 

The boys said to their grandmother: "We have done everything possible, dear grandmother; they 
came once, then we tried to call them again. But do not grieve, here we are, your grandchildren; 
you must look to us, oh, our mother! Oh, our grandmother! to remind you of our elder brothers, 
those who were called and have the names of Hunbatz and Hunchouen," said Hunahpii and 

Page 84 of 196 

They were invoked by the musicians and singers, and by the old people. The painters and 
craftsmen also invoked them in days gone by. n But they were changed into animals and became 
monkeys because they became arrogant and abused their brothers. 

In this way they were disgraced; this was their loss, in this way Hunbatz and Hunchouen were 
overcome and became animals. They had always lived in their home; they were musicians and 
singers and also did great things when they lived with their grandmother and with their mother. 


63:1 X-c' ah rumal qui chaquimal, qui gag vachibal puch cumal Hunbatz, Hunchouen. 

63:2 Xere qu'etaam ri qui qoheic, queheri zac ca qu'ilo. 

63:3 X-caminac cut qui naoh qui cabichal chirech qui chaquic Hunbatz, Hunchouen. This 
passage was not understood by Brasseur de Bourbourg. Of the translators of the Popol Vuh, only 
Ximenez has interpreted it correctly as: "And the two having talked to each other, about the 
overthrowal of Hun-batz and Hun-chouen." 

63:4 Ca tzih ta ch'uxoc, literally, "that our word and command be fulfilled." 

63:5 Chi qui qux, literally, "in their hearts." 

63:6 Cante, yellow wood, Gliricidia sepium. A tree from the roots of which the Maya obtained a 
substance which yielded a yellow color, according to the Diccionario de Motul. In Yucatan it is 
known by the name Zac-yab, and in Central America as Madre de cacao. Standley, Flora of 

63:7 Ch'y quira y vex. Unfasten your trousers, or breechclout; probably a simple loin cloth similar 
to the maxtatl of the Mexican Indians and the ex of the Maya is meant here. 

63:8 The monkey of Hunahpu. 

63:9 X-e ul chic u nicahal u va ha, literally, "they came to the edge of the house." 

63:10 U chi qui qux, literally, "the mouth of their stomachs." 

63:11 The painters and carvers of Yucatan invoked Huncheven and Hunahau, who were the 
younger sons of Ixchel and Itzamma (a god and goddess whom the Maya of the peninsula 
venerated), according to Bishop Las Casas ("De los libros y de las tradiciones religiosas que 
habia en Guatemala," Apologetica Historia de las Indias, Chap. CCXXXV). Those younger 
sons—the chronicler says—were not gods but divine men. Their names are evidently those of the 
days of the Maya calendar, 1 Chuen and 1 Ahau. The reader will easily notice the similarity 
between the Quiche youths and the Maya demigods. Bishop Las Casas writes in this connection: 

Page 85 of 196 

"All the trained workmen like the painters, the workers in feathers, the carvers, silversmiths, and 
others like them, worshiped and made sacrifice to those younger sons called Huncheven and 
Hunahau, so that they would grant them the talent and skill needed to do a finished, perfect piece 
of work. 

Page 86 of 196 

II. Chapter 6 

1 hen they [Hunahpu] and [Xbalanque] began to work, in order to be well thought of by their 
grandmother and their mother. The first thing they made was the cornfield. "We are going to plant 
the cornfield, grandmother and mother," they said. "Do not grieve; here we are, your 
grandchildren, we who shall take the place of our brothers," said Hunahpu and Xbalanque. 

At once they took their axes, their picks, and their wooden hoes and went, each carrying his 
blowgun on his shoulder. As they left the house they asked their grandmother to bring them their 
midday meal. 

"At midday, come and bring our food, grandmother," they said. 

"Very well, my grandsons," the old woman replied. 

Soon they came to the field. And as they plunged the pick into the earth, it worked the earth; it did 
the work alone. 

In the same way they put the ax in the trunks of the trees and in the branches, and instantly they 
fell and all the trees and vines were lying on the ground. The trees fell quickly, with only one 
stroke of the ax. 

The pick also dug a great deal. One could not count the thistles and brambles which had been 
felled with one blow of the pick. Neither was it possible to tell what it had dug and broken up, in 
all the large and small woods. 

And having taught an animal, called Xmucur, 1 they had it climb to the top of a large tree and 
Hunahpu and Xbalanque said to it: "Watch for our grandmother to come with our food, and as 
soon as she comes, begin at once to sing, and we shall seize the pick and the ax." 

"Very well," Xmucur answered. 

And they began to shoot with their blowguns; certainly they did none of the work of clearing and 
cultivating. A little later, the dove sang, and they ran quickly, grabbing the pick and ax. And one 
of them covered his head and also deliberately covered his hands With earth 2 and in the same 
way smeared his face to look like a real laborer, and the other purposely threw splinters of wood 
over his head as though he really had been cutting the trees. 

Thus their grandmother saw them. They ate at once, but they had not really done the work of 
tilling the soil, and without deserving it they were given their midday meal. After a while, they 
went home. 

"We are really tired, grandmother," they said upon arriving, stretching their legs and arms before 
her, but without reason. 

Page 87 of 196 

They returned the following day, and upon arriving at the field, they found that all the trees and 
vines were standing again and that the brambles and thistles had become entangled again. 

"Who has played this trick on us;" they said. "No doubt all the small and large animals did it, the 
puma, the jaguar, the deer, the rabbit, the mountain-cat, the coyote, the wild boar, the coati, the 
small birds, the large birds; they, it was, who did it; in a single night, they did it." 

They began again to prepare the field and to prepare the soil and cut the trees. They talked over 
what they would have to do with the trees which they had cut, and the weeds which they had 
pulled up. 

"Now we shall watch over our cornfield; perhaps we can surprise those who come to do all of this 
damage," they said, talking it over together. And later they returned home. 

"What do you think of it, grandmother? They have made fun of us. Our field, which we had 
worked, has been turned into a field of stubble and a thick woods. Thus we found it, when we got 
there, a little while ago, grandmother," they said to her and to their mother. "But we shall return 
there and watch over it, because it is not right that they do such things to us," they said. 

Then they dressed and returned at once to their field of cut trees, and there they hid themselves, 
stealthily, in the darkness. 

Then all the animals gathered again; one of each kind came with the other small and large 
animals. It was just midnight when they came, all talking as they came, saying in their own 
language: "Rise up, trees! Rise up, vines!" 3 

So they spoke when they came and gathered under the trees, under the vines, and they came 
closer until they appeared before the eyes [of Hunahpu and Xbalanque]. 

The puma and the jaguar were the first, and [Hunahpu and Xbalanque] wanted to seize them, but 
[the animals] did not let them. Then the deer and the rabbit came close, and the only parts of them 
which they could seize were their tails, 4 only these, they pulled out. The tall of the deer remained 
in their hands, and for this reason the deer and the rabbit have short tails. 

Neither the mountain-cat, the coyote, the wild boar, nor the coati fell into their hands. All the 
animals passed before Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who were furious because they could not catch 

But, finally, another animal came hopping along, and this one which was the rat, [which] they 
seized instantly, and wrapped him in a cloth. Then when they had caught him, they squeezed his 
head and tried to choke him, and they burned his tall in the fire, and for that reason the rat's tail 
has no hair. So, too, the boys, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, tried to poke at his eyes. 

The rat said: "I must not die at your hands. And neither is it your business to plant the cornfield." 

"What are you telling us now?" the boys asked the rat. 

Page 88 of 196 

"Loosen me a little, for I have something which I wish to tell you, and I shall tell you 
immediately, but first give me something to eat," said the rat. 

"We will give you food afterward, but first speak," they answered. 

"Very well. Do you know, then, that the property of your parents Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub- 
Hunahpu, as they were called, those who died in Xibalba, or rather the gear with which they 
played ball, has remained s and is hanging from the roof of the house: the ring, the gloves, and the 
ball? Nevertheless, your grandmother does not want to show them to you for it was on account of 
these things that your parents died." 

"Are you sure of that?" said the boys to the rat. And they were very happy when they heard about 
the rubber ball. And as the rat had now talked, they showed the rat what his food would be. 

"This shall be your food: corn, chili-seeds, beans, pataxte, cacao; g all this belongs to you, and 
should there be anything stored away or forgotten, it shall be yours also. Eat it," Hunahpii and 
Xbalanque said to the rat. 

"Wonderful, boys," he said; "but what shall I tell your grandmother if she sees me?" 

"Do not worry, because we are here and shall know what to say to our grandmother. Let us go! 
We shall go quickly to the comer of the house, go at once to where the things hang; we shall be 
looking at the garret of the house and paying attention to our food," they said to the rat. 

And having arranged it thus, during the night after talking together, Hunahpii and Xbalanque 
arrived at midday. When they arrived, they brought the rat with them, but they did not show it; 
one of them went directly into the house, and the other went to the corner and there let the rat 
climb up quickly. 

Immediately they asked their grandmother for food. "Prepare our food, i_ we wish a chili-sauce, 8 
grandmother," they said. And at once the food was prepared for them and a plate of broth was put 
before them. 

But this was only to deceive their grandmother and their mother. And having dried up the water 
which was in the water jar, they said, "We are really dying of thirst; go and bring us a drink," they 
said to their grandmother. 

"Good," she said and went. Then they began to eat, but they were not really hungry; it was only a 
trick. They saw then by means of their plate of chile § how the rat went rapidly toward the ball 
which was suspended from the roof of the house. On seeing this in their chile-sauce, they sent to 
the river a certain xan, an animal called xan which is like a mosquito, to puncture the side of their 
grandmother's water jar, and although she tried to stop the water which ran out, she could not 
close the hole made in the jar. 

"What is the matter with our grandmother? Our mouths are dry, with thirst, 10 we are dying of 
thirst," they said to their mother and they sent her out, n Immediately the rat went to cut [the cord 

Page 89 of 196 

which held] the ball and it fell from the garret of the house together with the ring and the gloves 
and the leather pads. The boys seized them and ran quickly to hide them on the road which led to 
the ball-court. 

After this they went to the river to join their grandmother and their mother, who were busily 
trying to stop the hole in the water jar. And arriving With their blowgun, they said when they 
came to the river: "What are you doing? We got tired [of waiting] and we came," they said. 

"Look at the hole in my jar which I cannot stop, said the grandmother. Instantly they stopped it, 
and together they returned, the two walking before their grandmother. 

And in this way the ball was found. 


69:1 The turtledove, mucuy in Maya. 

69:2 Xalog in the original; literally means "in vain" as Ximenez translates it, or "gratuitously," as 
Brasseur de Bourbourg renders it. 

69:3 Are puch tiquil u qux agab ta x-epetic, x-e chauiheic conohel ta x-epetic. Are qui chabal ri: 
Yaclin che, yaclin caam. 

69:4 The original is: Xa cuch u he x-qui chap vi. It seems to me that this is an error, and that it 
should read xa cu u he, etc., and I have so translated it. 

69:5 In his transcription from the Quiche text, Brasseur de Bourbourg omitted the words ri 
qu'etzabal x-e quel canoe, which I have translated as it is here. Etzan is "to play" and etzabal is 
the playing gear. 

69:6 These were practically the daily foods of the ancient Quiche. Of cacao beans {cacau in Maya 
and in Quiche), they made a very nourishing drink, and in the same way they used a kind of 
cacao, Theobroma bicolor, which the Quiche called pec and which is commonly known by the 
Mexican name of pataxte. 

69:7 Xa ch'y cutu ca ti, literally, "grind our food." The food of the Quiche Indians consisted 
principally of tortillas, i. e., cakes of corn, which were cooked and ground on the stone which they 
called caam, the metatl of Mexico. 

69:8 Cutum-ic, in Quiche; chilmulli, in Nahuatl, chile-sauce. 

69:9 Chupam cutum ic, within the chilmol. The liquid red sauce served as a mirror and reflected 
the rat's movements on the roof, without its appearing as though the boys were watching them. 

Page 90 of 196 

69:10 Oh hizabah chi ya. 
69:11 To fetch the water. 

Page 91 of 196 

II. Chapter 7 

1 he boys returned happily to the ball-court to play; they were playing alone a long time and 
cleared the court where their parents had played. 

And the Lords of Xibalba, hearing them, said: "Who are they who play again over our heads and 
disturb us with the noise they make? Perchance Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu did not die, 
those who wished to exalt themselves before us? Go at once and call them!" 

So said Hun-Came, Vucub-Came, and all the lords. And sending the messengers to call them, 
they said to them: "Go and tell them when you get there: 'Let them come,' the lords have said; we 
wish to play ball with them here, within seven days we wish to play; tell them so when you 
arrive," thus said the lords. This was the command which they gave to the messengers. And they 
came then by the wide road which the boys had made that led directly to their house; by it the 
messengers arrived directly before [the boys'] grandmother. They were eating when the 
messengers from Xibalba arrived. 

"Tell them to come, without fail, the lords commanded," said the messengers of Xibalba. And the 
messengers of Xibalba indicated the day: "Within seven days they will await them," they said to 

"It is well, messengers; they will go," the old woman answered. And the messengers set out on 
their return. 

Then the old woman's heart was filled with anxiety. "Who shall I send to call my grandchildren? 1 
Was it not in this same way that the messengers of Xibalba came before, when they came to take 
the [boys'] parents?" said the grandmother, entering her house, alone and grieving. 

And immediately a louse fell into her lap. She seized it and put it in the palm of her hand, and the 
louse wriggled and began to walk. 

"My child, would you like that I sent you away to call my grandchildren from the ball-court?" she 
said to the louse. "'Messengers have come to your grandmother,' tell them; 'come within seven 
days, tell them to come, said the messengers of Xibalba; thus your grandmother told me to say,'" 
thus she told the louse. 

At once the louse swaggered off. Sitting on the road was a boy called Tamazul, 2 or the toad. 

"Where are you going?" the toad said to the louse. 

"I am carrying a message in my stomach. I go to find the boys," said the louse to Tamazul. 

"Very well, but I see that you do not go quickly," said the toad to the louse. "Do you not want me 
to swallow you? You shall see how I run, and so we shall arrive quickly." 

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"Very well," the louse said to the toad. Immediately the toad swallowed him. And the toad 
walked a long time, but without hurrying. Soon he met a large snake, called Zaquicaz. 3 

"Where are you going, young Tamazul?" said Zaquicaz to the toad. 

"I go as a messenger; I carry a message in my stomach," said the toad to the snake. "See that you 
do not walk quickly. Would I not arrive sooner?" the snake said to the toad. "Come here," he said. 
At once Zaquicaz swallowed the toad. And from then on this was the food of snakes, who still 
today swallow toads. 

The snake went quickly and having met Vac, 4 which is a very large bird, the hawk, [the latter] 
instantly swallowed the snake. Shortly afterward it arrived at the ball-court. From that time, this 
has been the food of hawks, who devour snakes in the fields. 

And upon arrival, the hawk perched upon the cornice of the ball-court where Hunahpii and 
Xbalanque were amusing themselves playing ball. Upon arriving, the hawk began to cry: "Vac- 
col Vac-col" it said cawing. ["Here is the hawk! Here is the hawk!"] 

"Who is screaming? Bring our blowguns!" the boys exclaimed. And shooting at the hawk, they 
aimed a pellet at the pupil of the eye 5 and [the hawk] spiraled to the ground. They ran to seize it 
and asked: "What do you come to do here?" they asked the hawk. 

"I bring a message in my stomach. First cure my eye and afterward I shall tell you," the hawk 

"Very well," they said, and taking a bit of the rubber of the ball with which they were playing, 
they put it in the hawk's eye. Lotzquic § they called it, and instantly the hawk's eye was perfectly 

"Speak, then," they said to the hawk. And immediately it vomited a large snake. 

"Speak, you," they said to the snake. 

"Good," the [snake] said and vomited the toad. 

"Where is the message that you bring?" they asked the toad. 

"Herein my stomach is the message," answered the toad. And immediately he tried, but could not 
vomit; his mouth only filled with spittle but he did not vomit. The boys wanted to hit him then. 

"You are a liar, "they said, kicking him in the rump, and the bone of the haunches gave way. He 
tried again, but his mouth only filled with spittle. Then the boys opened the toad's mouth and 
once open, they looked inside of it. The louse was stuck to the toad's teeth: it had stayed in its 
mouth and had not been swallowed, but only pretended to be swallowed. 7 Thus the toad was 
tricked, and the kind of food to give it is not known. It cannot run; and it became the food of the 

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"Speak," they said to the louse, and then it gave its message. "Your grandmother has said, boys: 
'Go call them; the messengers of Hun-Came and Vucub-Came have come to tell them to go to 
Xibalba, saying: "They must come here within seven days to play ball with us, and they must also 
bring their playing gear, the ball, the rings, the gloves, the leather pads, in order that they may 
amuse themselves here," said the lords. They have really come,' said your grandmother. That is 
why I have come. For truly your grandmother said this and she cries and grieves, for this reason I 
have come." 

"Is it true?" the boys asked themselves when they heard this. And running quickly they arrived at 
their grandmother's side; they went only to take their leave of her. 

"We are going, grandmother, we came only to say goodbye. But here will be the sign which we 
shall leave of our fate: each of us shall plant a reed, in the middle of the house we shall plant it; if 
it dries, this shall be the sign of our death. 'They are dead!' you shall say, if it begins to dry up. 
But if it sprouts again: 'They are living!' you shall say, oh, our grandmother. And you, mother, do 
not weep, for here we leave the sign of our fate," thus they said. 

And before going, Hunahpu planted one [reed] and Xbalanque planted another; they planted them 
in the house and not in the field, nor did they plant them in moist soil, but in dry soil; in the 
middle of their house, they left them planted. 


74:1 Naqui x-chi v'u chah qui taquic ri viy? in the original. 

74:2 Tamazul u bi, ri xpek. The author here uses the Nahuatl word Tamazul to designate this 
particular toad, thus showing the old Toltec influence still remaining in the minds of the Indians 
of Guatemala. 

74:3 Literally, white armadillo. A very large snake which makes a great deal of noise when it 
crawls away. Santa Mania, Diccionario Cakchiquel. 

74:4 A hawk which eats snakes. Vocabulario de los P. P. Franciscanos. 

74:5 There is a play on words in the original here: qui cu tacal u bac uub chu bac u vach, they 
aimed the pellet (bac) of the blowgun at the ball (bac) of the eye. 

74:6 Lotz, sorrel; lotzquic, rubber, or juice of the sorrel. An herb which the Mexicans call 
xocoyolli, and which seems to be oxalis, according to our classification of natural history, says 
Brasseur de Bourbourg. He adds that the natives of Central America assured him that they still 
used it to remove cataracts from their eyes. Garcilaso de la Vega, the Inca, speaks in the same 
way of a similar plant used by the Indians of Peru. According to the Vocabulario de los P. P. 
Franciscanos, lotz is also the sapuyulo, or stone of the zapote which sometimes is covered with a 
white or amber-colored gum. 

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74:7 Xa quehe xa bic. 

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II. Chapter 8 

1 hen they went, each one carrying his blowgun, and went down in the direction of Xibalba. 
They descended the steps quickly and passed between several streams and ravines. They passed 
among some birds and these birds were called Molay. 1 

They also passed over a river of corruption, and over a river of blood, where they would be 
destroyed, so the people of Xibalba thought; but they did not touch it with their feet, instead they 
crossed it on their blowguns. 

They went on from there, and came to a crossway of four roads. They knew very well which were 
the roads to Xibalba; the black road, the white road, the red road, and the green road. So, then, 
they sent an animal called Xan. 2 It was to go to gather information which they wanted. "Sting 
them, one by one; first sting the one seated in the first place and then sting all of them, since this 
is the part you must play: to suck the blood of the men on the roads," they said to the mosquito. 

"Very well," answered the mosquito. And immediately it flew on to the dark road and went 
directly toward the wooden men which were seated first and covered with ornaments. It stung the 
first, but this one said nothing; then it stung the next one, it stung the second, who was seated, but 
this one said nothing, either. 

After that it stung the third; the third of those seated was Hun-Came. "Ah!" he exclaimed when it 
stung him. "What is this, Hun-Came? What is it that has stung you? Do you not know who has 
stung you? "said the fourth one of the lords, who were seated. 3 

"What is the matter, Vucub-Came? What has stung you?" said the fifth. 

"Ah! Ah!" then said Xiquiripat. And Vucub-Came asked him, "What has stung you?" and when 
they stung the sixth who was seated [he cried], "Ah!" 

"What is this, Cuchumaquic?" asked Xiquiripat. "What is it that has stung you?" And the seventh 
one seated said "Ah" when he was stung. 

"What is the matter, Ahalpuh?" said Cuchumaquic. "What has stung you?" And when it stung 
him, the eighth of those seated said, "Ah!" 

"What is the matter, Ahalcana?" said Ahalpuh. "What has stung you?" And when he was stung 
the ninth of those seated said "Ah!" 

"What is this, Chamiabac? "said Ahalcana. "What has stung you?" And when the tenth of those 
seated was stung, he said "Ah!" 

"What is the matter, Chamiaholom?" said Chamiabac. "What has stung you?" And when the 
eleventh of those seated was stung he said, "Ah!" 

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"What happened?" said Chamiaholom. "What has stung you?" And when the twelfth of those 
seated was stung, he said "Alas!" 

"What is this, Patan?" they said. "What has stung you?" And the thirteenth of those seated said 
"Alas!" when he was stung. 

"What is the matter, Quicxic?" said Patan. "What has stung you?" And the fourteenth of those 
seated when he was stung said "Alas!" 

"What has stung you, Quicrixcac?" said Quicre. 

In this way they told their names, as they all said them one to the other. 4 So they made 
themselves known 5 by telling their names, calling each chief, one by one. And in this manner 
each of those seated in his comer told his name. 

Not a single one of the names was missed. All told their names when Hunahpii puffed out a hair 
of his leg, which was what had stung them. It was really not a mosquito which stung them which 
went for Hunahpii and Xbalanque to hear the names of all of them. 

They [the youths] continued on their way and arrived where the Lords of Xibalba were. 

"Greet the lord, the one who is seated,' said one in order to deceive them. 

"That is not a lord, it is nothing more than a wooden figure," they said, and went on. Immediately 
they began to greet them: 

"Hail, Hun-Came! Hail, Vucub-Came! Hail, Xiquiripat! Hail, Cuchumaquic! Hail, Ahalpuh! Hail, 
Ahalcana! Hail, Chamiabac! Hail, Chamiaholom! Hail, Quicxic! Hail, Patan! Hail, Quicre! Hail, 
Quicrixcac!" they said coming before them. And looking in their faces, they spoke the name of 
all, without missing the name of a single one of them. 

But what the lords wished was that they should not discover their names. 

"Sit here," they said, hoping that they would sit in the seat [which they indicated]. 

"That is not a seat for us; it is only a hot stone," said Hunahpii and Xbalanque, and they [the 
Lords of Xibalba] could not overcome them. 

"Very well, go to that house," the lords said. And they [the youths] went on and entered the 
House of Gloom. And neither there were they overcome. 


Page 97 of 196 

78:1 Mo lay and its derivatives in Maya mean "together," "flock," "herd," derived from mol, "to 
gather." The text possibly refers here to the large flocks of birds which are still to be found in the 
tropical woods and fields of Guatemala. 

78:2 Mosquito. The same ally of Hunahpu and Xbalanque who made a hole in the water jar of 

78:3 Brasseur de Bourbourg corrected the text of this passage, which in the original manuscript 
reads as follows: ^Naqui Hun-Came, naquila mi-x-i tiouic? ^Xah i na qu'i chila mi x-i tionic? x- 
cha chic u cah culel. 

78:4 In the list of the Lords of Xibalba given here, some names appear which differ from those in 
Chapter 1 of this Part II, while others are omitted altogether. It is true that between one and 
another of these episodes a generation in time has elapsed and these changes are natural. Or is this 
still another version of these histories? The following are the new names: Quicxic (bloody wing), 
Quicrixcac (bloody claw), Quicre (teeth covered with blood). In the composition of all of these 
names, the word quic (blood) very appropriately appears. 

78:5 X qui cut u vach, literally, "they showed their faces." 

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II. Chapter 9 

1 his was the first test of Xibalba. The Lords of Xibalba thought that [the boys'] entrance there 
would be the beginning of their downfall. After a while [the boys] entered the House of Gloom; 
immediately lighted sticks of fat pine were given them and the messengers of Hun-Came also 
took a cigar to each one. 

"These are their pine sticks,' said the lord; 'they must return them at dawn, tomorrow, together 
with the cigars, and you must bring them back whole,' said the lord." So said the messengers 
when they arrived. 

"Very well," [the boys] replied. But they really did not [light] the sticks of pine, instead they put a 
red-colored thing in place of them, or some feathers from the tail of the macaw, which to the night 
watches 1 looked like lighted pine sticks. And as for the cigars, they attached fireflies to their 
end. 2 

All night [everybody] thought they were defeated. "They are lost," said the night watchmen. But 
the pine sticks had not been burned and looked the same, and the cigars had not been lighted and 
looked the same as before. 

They went to tell the lords. 

"How is this? Whence have they come? Who conceived them? Who gave birth to them? This 
really troubles us, because it is not well what they do. Their faces are strange, and strange is their 
conduct." they said to each other. 

Soon all the lords summoned [the boys]. 

"Eh! Let us play ball, boys!" they said. At the same time they were questioned by Hun-Came and 

"Where did you come from? Tell us, boys!" said the Lords of Xibalba. 

"Who knows whence we came! We do not know," they said, and nothing more. 

"Very well. Let us play ball, boys," said the Lords of Xibalba. 

"Good," they replied. 3 

"We shall use our ball," said the Lords of Xibalba. a 

"By no means, shall you use [your ball], but ours," the boys answered. 

"Not that one, but ours we shall use," insisted the Lords of Xibalba. 

Page 99 of 196 

"Very well," said the boys. 

"Let us play for a worm, the chil," 5 said the Lords of Xibalba. 

"No, but instead, the head of the puma shall speak," § said the boys. 

"Not that," said those of Xibalba. 

"Very well," said Hunahpu. 

Then the Lords of Xibalba seized the ball; they threw it directly at the ring of Hunahpu. 
Immediately, while those of Xibalba grasped the handle of the knife of flint, 7 the ball rebounded 
and bounced all around the floor of the ball-court. 

"What is this?" exclaimed Hunahpu and Xbalanque. "You wish to kill us? Perchance you did not 
send to call us? And your own messengers did not come? In truth, unfortunate are we! We shall 
leave at once," the boys said to them. 

This was exactly what those of Xibalba wanted to have happen to the boys, that they would die 
immediately, right there in the ball-court and thus they would be overcome. But it did not happen 
thus, and it was the Lords of Xibalba who were defeated by the boys. 

"Do not leave, boys, let us go on playing ball, but we shall use your ball," they said to the boys. 

"Very well," the boys answered and then they drove their ball 8 through [the ring of Xibalba], and 
with this the game ended. 

And offended by their defeat, the men of Xibalba immediately said: "What shall we do in order to 
overcome them?" And turning to the boys they said to them: "Go gather and bring us, early 
tomorrow morning, 9 four gourds of flowers." So said the men of Xibalba to the boys. 

"Very well. And what kind of flowers?" they asked the men of Xibalba. 

"A branch of red chiptlin, a branch of white chiptlin, a branch of yellow chiptlin, and a branch of 
carinimac," said the men of Xibalba. 10 

"Very well," replied the boys. 

Thus the talk ended; equally strong and vigorous were the words of the boys. And their hearts 
were calm when they gave themselves up to be overcome. 

The Lords of Xibalba were happy, thinking that they had already defeated them. 

"This has turned out well for us. First they must cut them [the flowers]," 11 said the Lords of 
Xibalba. "Where shall they go to get the flowers?" they said to themselves. 

Page 100 of 196 

"Surely you will give us our flowers tomorrow early; 12 go, then, to cut them," 13 the Lords of 
Xibalba said to Hunahpii and Xbalanque. 

"Very well," they replied. "At dawn u we shall play ball again," they said upon leaving. 

And immediately the boys entered the House of Knives, the second place of torture in Xibalba. 
And what the lords wanted was that they would be cut to pieces by the knives, and would be 
quickly killed; that is what they Wished in their hearts. 

But the [boys] did not die. They spoke at once to the knives 15 and said to them: 

"Yours shall be the flesh of all the animals," they said to the knives. And they did not move again, 
but all the knives were quiet. 

Thus they passed the night in the House of Knives, and calling all the ants, they said to them: 
"Come, Cutting Ants, ig come, zompopos, 17 and all of you go at once, go and bring all the kinds 
of flowers that we must cut for the lords." 

"Very well," they said, and all the ants went to bring the flowers from the gardens of Hun-Came 
and Vucub-Came. 

Previously [the lords] had warned the guards of the flowers of Xibalba: "Take care of our flowers, 
do not let them be taken by the boys who shall come to cut them. But how could [the boys] see 
and cut the flowers? ig Not at all. Watch, then, all night!" 

"Very well," they answered. But the guards of the garden heard nothing. Needlessly they shouted 
up into the branches of the trees in the garden. There they were all night, repeating their same 
shouts and songs. 

"Ixpurpuvecl Ixpurpuvecl" one shouted. 

"Puhuyul Puhuyul" the other answered. 19 

Puhuyii was the name of the two who watched the garden of Hun-Came and Vucub-Came. 20 But 
they did not notice the ants who were robbing them of what they were guarding, turning around 
and moving here and there, cutting the flowers, climbing the trees to cut the flowers, and 
gathering them from the ground at the foot of the trees. 

Meanwhile the guards went on crying, and they did not feel the teeth which were cutting their 
tails and their wings. 

And thus the ants carried, between their teeth, the flowers which they took down, and gathering 
them from the ground, they went on carrying them with their teeth. 

Page 101 of 196 

Quickly they filled the four gourds with flowers, which were moist [with dew] when it dawned. 21 
Immediately the messengers arrived to get them. "Tell them to come,' the lord has said, 'and 
bring here instantly what they have cut,'" they said to the boys. 

"Very well," the [boys] answered. And carrying the flowers in the four gourds, they went, and 
when they arrived before the lord [of Xibalba] and the other lords, it was lovely to see the flowers 
they had brought. And in this way the Lords of Xibalba were overcome. 

The boys had only sent the ants [to cut the flowers], and in a night the ants cut them and put them 
in the gourds. 

Instantly the Lords of Xibalba paled and their faces became livid because of the flowers. They 
sent at once for the guardians of the flowers. "Why did you permit them to steal our flowers? 
These which we see here are our flowers," they said to the guardians. 

"We noticed nothing, my lord. Our tails also suffered," they answered. And then the [lords] tore 
at their mouths as a punishment for having let that which was under their care be stolen. 

Thus were Hun-Came and Vucub-Came defeated by Hunahpu and Xbalanque. And this was the 
beginning of their deeds. From that time the mouth of the owl is divided, cleft as it is today. 

Immediately they went down to play ball, and also they played several tie-matches. Then they 
finished playing and agreed to play again the following day at dawn. So said the Lords of 

"It is well," said the boys upon finishing. 


84:1 Varanel, the "night guards." 

84:2 Caca chicop, insect of fire, glowworms. As in English, the firefly. 

84:3 In order to understand better the passages of the Popol Vuh in which the ball game is spoken 
of, it is well to read Sahagiin's description of it (Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espana, 
Vol. II, Book VIII, Chap X, p. 297), which follows: ". . . At other times the lord played ball for 
his pastime, and for this balls of ulli were kept; these balls were about the size of some large balls 
for bowling [and] they were solid, of a certain resin or gum which they called ulli, which is very 
light and bounces like an inflated ball; and he also brought with him good ball players who played 
before him and other principal men played on the opposite [team] and they won gold and 
chalchiguites and beads of gold, and turquoise, and slaves, and rich mantles, and maxtles, and 
cornfields and houses, etc. [feathers, cacao, cloaks of feather]. ... the ballcourt was called tlaxtli 
or tlachtli and consisted of two walls, twenty or thirty feet apart, and were up to forty or fifty feet 
in length; the walls and the floor were whitewashed, and were about eight and a half feet high, 

Page 102 of 196 

and in the middle of the court was a line which was used in the game. In the middle of the walls, 
in the center of the court, were two stones, like millstones hollowed out, opposite each other, and 
each one had a hole wide enough to contain the ball for each one of them. And the one who put 
the ball in it won the game; they did not play with their hands, but instead struck the ball with 
their buttocks; for playing, they wore gloves on their hands and a belt of leather on their buttocks, 
with which to strike the ball." 

84:4 Brasseur de Bourbourg intentionally changes the order of this part of the dialogue. The order 
has been re-established here according to the original Quiche, to which both Ximenez and I 
adhere, as may be seen in the former's first version (1857). 

84:5 Chil, a caterpillar which, according to Ximenez in his Tesoro, clings. This may be the 
centipede, according to the Vocabulario Maya-Quiche-Cakchiquel que se habla en la laguna de 

84:6 This passage is very vague, and Brasseur de Bourbourg even says that it is unintelligible. 
There is an evident play of words concerned in it. The original says: He bala xa hu chil, x-e cha 
Xibalba. Ma bala, xa holom coh cha chic, x-e cha qaholab. Bala is an indefinite word used to 
give emphasis to the account, and is sometimes also an adverb of place. It seems, nevertheless, 
that here it is repeated in the text to appear like balam, as though wishing to say: "The head of the 
jaguar [balam] does not rule here, but the head of the puma [coh]." These seem to be terms of the 
ancient ball game. Surmounting the side of the imposing ball-court of Chichen-Itza is the Temple 
of the jaguars, so called because of the figures of these animals which are engraved on its walls. 
Undoubtedly the jaguar had some connection with the ball game. 

84:7 Catepuch ta x-qu il Xibalba ri zaqui tog, ta x-el chupam ri quic. The lords of Xibalba, 
without losing time, wanted to kill their guests with the sacrificial knife and only were deterred 
from this intention by the just complaint which may be read in the following paragraph. 

84:8 Are cu x-oc ri quic. Playing with their own ball, the youths had no difficulty in driving it 
through the ring of their opponents and thus winning the game. 

84:9 Xa cacha ca cah cah zel cotzih. Cah is the numeral "four" and also the adverb "early." 

84:10 Caca-muchih. Muchih or muchit is the name of a certain plant called chipilin, says 
Ximenez. It is a plant of the leguminous family, Crotalaria longirostrata. It has not been possible 
to identify the plant which the text calls Carinimac. 

84:11 Nabe mi x-e ca chaco. 

84:12 Quitzih ta agab ch'yya ri ca cotzih. Here agab, agabd means at dawn, or daybreak, when 
night is over, and only by following this interpretation does this part of the story agree with that 
which appears farther on. 

84:13 Ca chacom puch. Until now, the meaning of the verb chacon from chacd and chaque, "to 
cut bunches of flowers," has escaped translators of the Popol Vuh. 

Page 103 of 196 

84:14 Agabd the same as in the previous paragraph. 

84:15 Ta x-e cha chire cha. Brasseur de Bourbourg observes here that the Quiche delighted in 
these plays on words. In this entire chapter the author uses the word cha, which means to talk, to 
say, lance, knife, glass, etc. The same may be said of the word cah used, as has been said in a 
previous note, as an adjective, a verb, and an adverb. 

84:16 Chai-zanic, cutting ants. 

84:17 Chequen-zanic, red or black ants which travel by night and cut the tender leaves and 
flowers. In Guatemala they are commonly known as zompopos, a Mexican word. 

84:18 (Ana-vi x-pe vi r'ilo ca chacon cumal? Again the verb chacon, in the sense of cutting 
branches or flowers. 

84:19 Purpuvec and puhuy are the names which the Quiche and Cakchiquel still give to the red or 
barn owl. They are words which imitate the call of these birds. "Puhuy, Pupuek, a night bird 
which travels when the moon is up, at night," says the Vocabulario de los P. P. Franciscanos. 
The birds of which the text speaks here seem to be rather the bird commonly called the churn owl. 
This word imitates the choppy call of those birds which are to be heard at a distance in the night. 
Puhuy is the Maya name of one of these night birds. The Vocabulario de las lenguas Quiche y 
Cakchiquel defines these words as follows: Xpurpuguek, cuerpo-ruin; Puhuyu, chotacabra. Both 
names apply to the same bird, a member of the Caprimulgidae family. 

84:20 Ri Puhuyu u bi e caib chi chahal ticon, u ticon Hun-Came, Vucub-Came. 

84:21 Tiquitoh chicut ta x-zaquiric. 

Page 104 of 196 

II. Chapter 10 

rVfterward they entered the House of Cold. It is impossible to describe how cold it was. The 
house was full of hail; it was the mansion of cold. Soon, however, the cold was ended because 
with [a fire of] old logs the boys made the cold disappear. 

That is why they did not die; they were still alive when it dawned. Surely what the Lords of 
Xibalba wanted was that they would die; but it was not thus, and when it dawned, they were still 
full of health, and they went out again, when the messengers came to get them. 

"How is this? They are not dead yet?" said the Lords of Xibalba. They were amazed to see the 
deeds of Hunahpu and Xbalanque. 

Presently the boys [entered] the House of Jaguars. The house was full of jaguars. "Do not bite us! 
Here is what belongs to you," 1 [the boys] said to the jaguars. And quickly they threw some bones 
to the animals, which pounced upon the bones. 

"Now surely they are finished. Now already they have eaten their own entrails. At last they have 
given themselves up. Now their bones have been broken, "so said the guards, all happy because of 
this. But they [the boys] did not die. As usual, well and healthy, they came out of the House of 

"What kind of people are they? Where did they come from?" said all the Lords of Xibalba. 

Presently they [the boys] entered into the midst of fire in the House of Fire, inside which there 
was only fire; but they were not burned. Only the coals and the wood burned. And, as usual, they 
were well when it dawned. But what they [the Lords of Xibalba] wished was that [the boys] 
would die rapidly, where they had been. Nevertheless, it did not happen thus, which disheartened 
the Lords of Xibalba. 

Then they put them into the House of Bats. There was nothing but bats inside this house, the 
house of Camazotz, 2 a large animal, whose weapons for killing were like a dry point, 3 and 
instantly those who came into their presence perished. 4 

They [the boys] were in there, then, but they slept inside their blowguns. And they were not bitten 
by those who were in the house. Nevertheless, one of them had to give up because of another 
Camazotz that came from the sky, and made him come into sight. 

The bats were assembled in council all night, and flew about: "Quilitz, quilitz," they said: So they 
were saying all night. They stopped for a little while, however, and they did not move and were 
pressed against the end of one of the blowguns. 

Then Xbalanque said to Hunahpu: "Look you, has it begun already to get light?" 

Page 105 of 196 

"Maybe so. I am going to see," [Hunahpii] answered. 

And as he wished very much to look out of the mouth of the blowgun, and wished to see if it had 
dawned, instantly Camazotz cut off his head and the body of Hunahpii was decapitated. 

Xbalanque asked again: "Has it not yet dawned?" But Hunahpii did not move. "Where have you 
gone, Hunahpii? What have you done?" But he did not move, and remained silent. 

Then Xbalanque felt concerned and exclaimed: "Unfortunate are we. We are completely undone." 

They went immediately to hang the head [of Hunahpii] in the ball-court by special order of Hun- 
Came and Vucub-Came, and all the people of Xibalba rejoiced for what had happened to the head 
of Hunahpii. 


87:1 Qoyvech ch'uxic, literally, "yours shall be what is here." Ximenez translates this passage 
thus: "This must be your food!" reading yvecha instead of the possessive yvech, "yours." 

87:2 Death Bat. The vampire bat god of the Maya codices appears with the sacrificial knife in one 
hand and his victim in the other. 

87:3 Chaqui tzam, "dry point"; it may be understood here as referring to the burnt staff, hardened 
in the fire. 

87:4 Huzu ch'utzinic ch'opon chi qui vach, in the original. Chupan in Brasseur de Bourbourg 
through an error in copying. 

Page 106 of 196 

II. Chapter 11 

Immediately he [Xbalanque] called all the animals, the coati, the wild boar, all the animals small 
and large, during the night, and at dawn he asked them what their food was. 

"What does each of you eat? For I have called you so that you may choose your food," said 
Xbalanque to them. 

"Very well," they answered. And immediately each went to take his [own food] and they all went 
together. Some went to take rotten things; others went to take grasses; others went to get stones. 
Others went to gather earth. Varied was the food of the [small] animals and of the large animals. 

Behind them the turtle was lingering, 1 it came waddling along to take its food. And reaching at 
the end [of Hunahpii' s body] it assumed the form of the head of Hunahpii, and instantiy the eyes 
were fashioned. 

Many soothsayers came, then, from heaven. The Heart of Heaven, Huracan, came to soar over the 
House of Bats. 

It was not easy to finish making the face, but it turned out very well; the hair had a handsome 
appearance and [the head] could also speak. 

But as it was about to dawn and the horizon reddened: "Make it dark again, old one!" the buzzard 
was told. 2 

"Very well, said the old one, 3 and instantly the old one darkened [the sky]. "Now the buzzard has 
darkened it," the people say nowadays. 

And so, during the cool of dawn, the [Hunahpii] began his existence. 

"Will it be good?" they said. "Will it turn out to look like Hunahpii?" 

"It is very good," they answered. And really it seemed that the skull had changed itself back into a 
real head. 

Then they [the two boys] talked among themselves and agreed: "Do not play ball; only pretend to 
play; I shall do everything alone," said Xbalanque. 4 

At once he gave his orders to a rabbit: "Go and take your place over the ball-court; stay there 
within the oak grove," 5 the rabbit was told by Xbalanque; "when the ball comes to you, run out 
immediately, and I shall do the rest," the rabbit was told, when they gave him these instructions 
during the night. 

Page 107 of 196 

Presently day broke and the two boys were well and healthy. Then they went down to play ball. 
The head of Hunahpu was suspended over the ball-court. 

"We have triumphed! [said the Lords of Xibalbaj.You worked your own destruction, § you have 
delivered yourselves," they said. In this way they annoyed Hunahpu. 

"Hit his head with the ball," i_ they said. But they did not bother him with it; 8 he paid no attention 
to it. 9 

Then the Lords of Xibalba threw out the ball. Xbalanque went out to get it; the ball was going 
straight to the ring, but it stopped, bounced, and passed quickly over the ball-court and with a 
jump went toward the oak grove. 

Instantly the rabbit ran out and went hopping; and the Lords of Xibalba ran after it. They went, 
making noise and shouting after the rabbit. It ended by all of the Lords of Xibalba going. 

At once Xbalanque took possession of the head of Hunahpu; and taking the turtle he went to 
suspend it over the ball-court. And that head was actually the head of Hunahpu and the two boys 
were very happy. 

Those of Xibalba ran, then, to find the ball and having found it between the oaks, called them, 

"Come here. Here is the ball. We found it," they said, and they brought it. 

When the Lords of Xibalba returned, they exclaimed, "What is this we see?" 

Then they began to play again. Both of them tied. 

Presently Xbalanque threw a stone at the turtle, which came to the ground and fell in the ball- 
court, breaking into a thousand pieces like seeds, before the lords. 

"Who of you shall go to find it? Where is the one who shall go to bring it?" said the Lords of 

And so were the Lords of Xibalba overcome by Hunahpu and Xbalanque. These two suffered 
great hardships, but they did not die despite all that was done to them. 


90:1 Ri tiz coc, literally, "the turtle squeezed or compressed" (inside its shell). 

90:2 This passage is very difficult to understand in Brasseur de Bourbourg's transcription. The 
text may be read as follows: Are cut ta chi r'ah zaquiric chi cactarin u xecah, "jCa zaquinu chic, 

Page 108 of 196 

ama!," x-u chax ri vuch, since farther on, one reads x-u chax umul, which is said to the rabbit. 
When transcribing the primitive text, Ximenez wrote chux and not chax, but in his literal 
translation it is "was said to the buzzard." 

It seems to me that those who in this place have translated the verb xaquin as "to open the legs" 
have also erred. Xaquin in Quiche means to darken, to stain, to soil with soot or coal. Ximenez 
Wisely translates it here as "darken." 

Note, also, that following Ximenez, I have translated vuch as "buzzard" (vulture), and not as a fox 
bitch or tacuatzin as do Brasseur de Bourbourg and others. "Vulture" in Quiche is cuch or kuch, 
that the Spanish clerics sometimes wrote guch, which has the same sound of vuch or uuch. The 
meaning in this passage corresponds more nearly to "vulture" or "buzzard," a bird of black 
plumage. The picture of the buzzard spreading its wings in order to darken the sky and to hide the 
secret fashioning of the artificial head of Hunahpii belongs to the most genuine expression of 
aboriginal American mythology. 

90:3 "ve," x-cha ri mama. The Quiche call the male buzzard mama cuch, "old buzzard." The 
identity of the creature mentioned here, however, is of no importance. The ancient Indians made 
use of objects and beings in nature with which to represent imaginary ideas and immaterial things, 
by means of the similarity of their names. In the present case they were trying, without doubt, to 
represent the idea of the darkness which immediately precedes the dawn, which they called vuch. 
Father Thomas Coto thus explains the significance of the word vuch: "It signifies that darkening 
of the sky when it is about to dawn." In order to represent this idea, the Indians traced the figure 
of the animal whose name sounded like the word they were trying to suggest. 

90:4 The text here should read: Mana qui c'at chaahic, xaqui ch'a yecuh avib. Xa in hun qui qui 
banouic, x-cha xbalanque chive. 

90:5 Chupam pixc. Ximenez translates "in the tomato patch," taking pixc for pix. Brasseur de 
Bourbourg translates entre les glands de la corniche. Villacorta and Rodas say, "Inside the hole of 
the roof." Schultze Jena says "cornice." Pixc, in Quiche and Cakchiquel, is the evergreen oak and 
its fruit, the acorn, gland in French. 

90:6 Mi-x-y bano qui yan, in the original. 

90:7 Ch'a caca ri holom chi quic. Brasseur de Bourbourg interprets this sentence fancifully, 
according to his whim. Cac means "to stone," "to hit." 

90:8 In the original: Ma cu chi qui ca caxou chic. 

90:9 Chi yecoub quib, literally, to "pretend" or "dissimulate." 

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II. Chapter 12 

rlere is the account of the death of Hunahpii and Xbalanque. Now we shall tell of the way they 

Having been forewarned of all the suffering which the [Lords of Xibalba] wished to impose upon 
them, they did not die of the tortures of Xibalba, nor were they overcome by all the fierce animals 
which were in Xibalba. 

Afterward they sent for two soothsayers who were like prophets; they were called Xulii and 
Pacam 1 and were diviners, and they said unto them: 

"You shall be questioned by the Lords of Xibalba about our deaths, for which they are planning 
and preparing because of the fact that we have not died, nor have they been able to overcome us, 
nor have we perished under their torments, nor have the animals attacked us. We have the 
presentiment in our hearts that they shall kill us by burning us. All the people of Xibalba have 
assembled, but the truth is, that we shall not die. Here, then, you have our instructions as to what 
you must say: 

"If they should come to consult you about our death and that we may be sacrificed, what shall you 
say then, Xulu and Pacam? If they ask you: 'Will it not be good to throw their bones into the 
ravine?' 'No, it would not be well,' tell them, 'because they would be brought to life again, 
afterward!' If they ask you: 'Would it not be good to hang them from the trees?' you shall 
answer: 'By no means would it be well, because then you shall see their faces again.' And when 
for the third time they ask you: 'Would it be good to throw their bones into the river?' If you were 
asked all the above by them, you should answer: 'It would be well if they were to die that way; 
then it would be well to crush their bones on a grinding stone, as corn meal is ground; let each one 
be ground [separately]; throw them into the river immediately, there where the spring gushes 
forth, in order that they may be carried away among all the small and large hills.' Thus you shall 
answer them when the plan which we have advised you is put into practice," said Hunahpii and 
Xbalanque. And when they [the boys] took leave of them, they already knew about their 
approaching death. 

They made then, a great bonfire, a kind of oven; the men of Xibalba made it and filled it with 
thick branches. 

Shortly afterward the messengers arrived who had to accompany [the boys], the messengers of 
Hun-Came and Vucub-Came. 

'"Tell them to come. Go and get the boys; go there so that they may know we are going to burn 
them.' This the lords said, oh, boys!" the messengers exclaimed. 

"It is well," they answered. And setting out quickly, they arrived near the bonfire. There [the 
Lords of Xibalba] wanted to force the boys to play a mocking game with them. 

Page 110 of 196 

"Let us drink our chicha and fly four times, each one [over the bonfire] boys!" was said to them 
by Hun-Came. 

"Do not try to deceive us,"[the boys] answered. "Perchance, we do not know about our death, oh 
lords! And that this is what awaits us here? "And embracing each other, face to face, they both 
stretched out their arms, bent toward the ground and jumped into the bonfire, and thus the two 
died together. 

All those of Xibalba were filled with joy, shouting and whistling they exclaimed: "Now we have 
overcome them. At last they have given themselves up." 

Immediately they called Xulu and Pacam, to whom they [the boys] had given their instructions, 
and asked them what they must do with their bones, as they [the boys] had foretold. Those of 
Xibalba then ground their bones and went to cast them into the river. But the bones did not go 
very far, for settling themselves down at once on the bottom of the river, they were changed back 
into handsome boys. And when again they showed themselves they really had their same old 
faces. 2 


94:1 Xulu, little devils who appear near the rivers, according to Father Barela. Ahxulu is the same 
as ahquib, "soothsayer." Pacam, "distinguished." 

94:2 That is, those of Hunahpu and Xbalanque. 

Page 111 of 196 

II. Chapter 13 

LJn the fifth day they appeared again and were seen in the water by the people. Both had the 
appearance of fishmen; 1 when those of Xibalba saw them, after having hunted them all over the 

And the following day, two poor men presented themselves with very old-looking faces and of 
miserable appearance, [and] ragged clothes, whose countenances did not commend them. So they 
were seen by all those of Xibalba. 

And what they did was very little. They only performed the dance of the puhuy [owl or chum- 
owl], the dance of the cux [weasel], and the dance of the iboy [armadillo], and they also danced 
the xtzul [centipede] and the chide [that walks on stilts]. 2 

Furthermore, they worked many miracles. They burned houses as though they really were burning 
and instantly they were as they had been before. 3 Many of those of Xibalba watched them in 

Presently they cut themselves into bits; they killed each other; the first one whom they had killed 
stretched out as though he were dead, and instantly the other brought him back to life. Those of 
Xibalba looked on in amazement at all they did, and they performed it, as the beginning of their 
triumph over those of Xibalba. 

Presently word of their dances came to the ears of the lords Hun-Came and Vucub-Came. Upon 
hearing it they exclaimed: "Who are these two orphans? Do they really give you so much 

"Surely their dances are very beautiful, and all that they do," answered he who had brought the 
news to the lords. 

Happy to hear this, the [lords] then sent their messengers to call [the boys] with flattery. "'Tell 
them to come here, tell them to come so that we may see what they do; that we may admire them 
and regard them with wonder,' this the lords said. 'So you shall say unto them,'" this was told to 
the messengers. 

They arrived at once before the dancers and gave them the message of the lords. 

"We do not wish to, the [boys] answered," because, frankly, we are ashamed. How could we not 
but be ashamed to appear in the house of the lords with our ugly countenances, our eyes which are 
so big, and our poor appearance? Do you not see that we are nothing more than some [poor] 
dancers? What shall we tell our companions in poverty who have come with us and wish to see 
our dances and be entertained by them? How could we do our dances before the lords? 4 For that 
reason, then, we do not want to go, oh, messengers," said Hunahpu and Xbalanque. 

Page 112 of 196 

Finally, with downcast faces and with reluctance and sorrow they went; but for a while they did 
not wish to walk, and the messengers had to beat them in the face many times, when they led 
them to the house of the lords. 

They arrived, then, before the lords, timid and with head bowed; they came prostrating 
themselves, making reverences and humiliating themselves. 5 They looked feeble, ragged, and 
their appearance was really that of vagabonds when they arrived they were questioned 
immediately about their country and their people; they also asked them about their mother and 
their father. 

"Where do you come from?" [the lords] said. 

"We do not know, Sir. We do not know the faces of our mother and father; we were small when 
they died," they answered, and did not say another word. 

"All right. Now do [your dances] so that we may admire you. What do you want? We shall give 
you pay," they told them. 

"We do not want anything; but really we are very much afraid," they said to the lord. 

"Do not grieve, do not be afraid. Dance! And do first the part in which you kill yourselves; burn 
my house, do all that you know how to do. We shall marvel at you, for that is what our hearts 
desire. And afterwards, poor things, we shall give help for your journey," they told them. 

Then they began to sing and dance. All the people of Xibalba arrived and gathered together in 
order to see them. Then they performed the dance of the cux, they danced the puhuy, and they 
danced the iboy. 

And the lord said to them: "Cut my dog into pieces and let him be brought back to life by you," 
he said to them. 

"Very well," they answered, and cut the dog into bits. Instantly they brought him back to life. The 
dog was truly full of joy when he was brought back to life, and wagged his tail when they revived 

The Lord said to them then: "Burn my house now!" Thus he said to them, instantly they put fire 
to the lord's house, and although all the lords were assembled together within the house, they 
were not burned. Quickly it was whole again, and not for one instant was the house of Hun-Came 

All of the lords were amazed, and in the same way the [boys'] dances gave them much pleasure. 

Then they were told by the lord: "Now kill a man, sacrifice him, but do not let him die," he told 

Page 113 of 196 

"Very well," they answered. And seizing a man, they quickly sacrificed him, and raising his heart 
on high, they held it so that all the lords could see it. 

Again Hun-Came and Vucub-Came were amazed. A moment afterward the man was brought 
back to life by them [the boys], and his heart was filled with joy when he was revived. 

The lords were astounded. "Sacrifice yourselves now, let us see it! We really like your dances!" 
said the lords. "Very well, Sirs," they answered. And they proceeded to sacrifice each other. 
Hunahpu g was sacrificed by Xbalanque; one by one his arms and his legs were sliced off, his 
head was cut from his body and carried away; his heart was torn from his breast and thrown onto 
the grass. All the Lords of Xibalba were fascinated. 7 They looked on in wonder, but really it was 
only the dance of one man; it was Xbalanque. 

"Get up!" he said, and instantiy 8 [Hunahpu] returned to life. They [the boys] were very happy 
and the lords were also happy. In truth, what they did gladdened the hearts of Hun-Came and 
Vucub-Came, and the latter felt as though they themselves were dancing. 9 

Then their hearts were filled with desire and longing by the dances of Hunahpu and Xbalanque; 10 
and Hun-Came and Vucub-Came gave their commands. 

"Do the same with us! Sacrifice us!" they said. "Cut us into pieces, one by one!" Hun-Came and 
Vucub-Came said to Hunahpu and Xbalanque. 11 

"Very well; afterward you will come back to life again. Perchance, did you not bring us here in 
order that we should entertain you, the lords, and your sons, and vassals?" they said to the lords. 12 

And so it happened that they first sacrificed the one, who was the chief and [Lord of Xibalba], the 
one called Hun-Came, king of Xibalba. 

And when Hun-Came was dead, they overpowered Vucub-Came, and they did not bring either of 
them back to life. 

The people of Xibalba fled as soon as they saw that their lords were dead and sacrificed. In an 
instant both were sacrificed. And this they [the boys] did in order to chastize them. Quickly the 
principal lord was killed. And they did not bring him back to life. 

And another lord humbled himself then, and presented himself before the dancers. They had not 
discovered him, nor had they found him. "Have mercy on me!" he said when they found him. 

All the sons and vassals of Xibalba fled to a great ravine, and all of them were crowded into this 
narrow, deep place. There they were crowded together and hordes of ants came and found them 
and dislodged them from the ravine. In this way [the ants] drove them to the road, and when they 
arrived [the people] prostrated themselves and gave themselves up; they humbled themselves and 
arrived, grieving. 

Page 114 of 196 

In this way the Lords of Xibalba were overcome. Only by a miracle and by their [own] 
transformation could [the boys] have done it. 13 


99:1 Vinac-car, literally "fish man." The author no doubt plays with these words to give the idea 
that the heroes of the story were sons of the water. Vinac car is really the common name of a 
variety of fish," a very large fish," says Barela, which is caught with barbasco [a poisonous 
plant]." However, the Vocabulario de las lenguas Quiche y Cakchiquel, closely following the 
literal meaning of the words, interprets them as "a large fish or mermaid." 

99:2 In the dance of Xtzul, the dancers wear small masks, and tails of the macaw on the napes of 
their necks, according to Barela. Landa says that when the New Year fell on the day Muluc, the 
Maya of Yucatan danced a dance on very tall stilts during the corresponding fiestas. 

99:3 Vinaquir chic, literally, "they were created again." 

99:4 The exact sentence in the original is as follows: Ma quehe la cu x-chi ca ban chique ri 

99:5 Here there is a repetition of the same idea expressed in a series of synonymous verbs: que 
mocho chic, chi qui xule la qui vach, x-qui quemelah quib, chi qui luc quib, chi quipach quib. 
This last word was omitted by Brasseur de Bourbourg. All these sentences have identical, 
meaning and are undoubtedly used to emphasize the respect which the youthful heroes, so 
cleverly disguised as vagabonds, wished to feign before their enemies, the Lords of Xibalba. 

99:6 Xhunahpu in the original. 

99:7 Que gabar cu ri ronohel rahaual Xibalba, literally, "all the Lords of Xibalba were drunk." 

99:8 Libah chicut, omitted in the Brasseur de Bourbourg transcription. 

99:9 This juggling, which brings to mind the deceptions of the fakirs of India, was also well 
known by the Maya Indians of Mexico. Sahagiin, describing the customs of the Huasteca, a 
Mexican tribe related to the Maya of Yucatan, says that when they returned to Panutla, or Panuco, 
"they took with them the old songs which they used when they danced and all the adornment 
which they used in the dance or areyto. They were also fond of trickery, with which they deceived 
the people, making them believe as true that which is false, as they made them believe that they 
burned the houses, when it was not so; that they made a fountain with fish appear, and it was 
nothing but an optical illusion; that they killed each other, slicing their flesh into pieces, and other 
things which were apparent but not true. . . ."As Brasseur de Bourbourg observes, this paragraph 
seems to have been taken from the Popol Vuh. Cf. Sahagiin, Historia general . . . de Nueva 
Espana, Book X, Chap. XXIX, par. 12. 

Page 115 of 196 

99:10 Xhunahpii, and Xbalanque in the original. 

99:11 Hunal tah coh i puzu x-e cha cut, omitted by Brasseur de Bourbourg. 

99:12 Ma pa yx qo cam oh pu quicotirizay yve, etc. The verb cam means "to die" and "to bring." 
Brasseur de Bourbourg translates this passage as follows: est-ce que pour vous peut exister la 
mort? but the complete meaning of the sentence justifies the interpretation which Ximenez gives 
it and which, in the main, is the same as mine. 

99:13 This refers naturally to the changing of Hunahpii and Xbalanque into two poor boys who 
tragically deceived the Lords of Xibalba with their magic art. 

Page 116 of 196 

II. Chapter 14 

Immediately [the boys] told their names and they extolled themselves before all the people of 

"Hear our names. We shall also tell you the names of our fathers. We are Hunahpii and 
Xbalanque; 1 those are our names. And our fathers are those whom you killed and who were 
called Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu. We, those whom you see here, are, then, the avengers 
of the torments and suffering of our fathers. 2 That is the reason why we resent all the evil you 
have done to them. Therefore, we shall put an end to all of you, we shall kill you, and not one of 
you shall escape, "they said. 

Instantly all the people of Xibalba fell to their knees, crying. 

"Have mercy on us, Hunahpii and Xbalanque! It is true that we sinned against your fathers as you 
said, and that they are buried in Puchbal-Chah," they said. 

"Very well. This is our sentence, that we are going to tell you. Hear it, all you of Xibalba: 

"Since neither your great power nor your race any longer exist, and since neither do you deserve 
mercy, your rank shall be lowered. 3 Not for you shall be the ball game. 4 You shall spend your 
time making earthen pots and tubs and stones to grind corn. 5 Only the children of the thickets and 
desert shall speak with you. The noble sons, the civilized vassals shall not consort with you, and 
they will foresake your presence. § The sinners, the evil ones, the sad ones, the unfortunate ones, 
those who give themselves up to vice, these are the ones who will welcome you. No longer will 
you seize men suddenly [for sacrifice]; remember your rank has been lowered." 

Thus they spoke to all the people of Xibalba. 

In this way their destruction and their lamentations began. Their power in the olden days was not 
much. They only liked to do evil to men in those times. In truth, in those days, they did not have 
the category of gods. Furthermore, their horrible faces frightened people. They were the enemies, 
the owls, z They incited to evil, to sin and to discord. 

They were also false in their hearts, black and white at the same time, 8 envious and tyrannical, 9 
according to what was said of them. Furthermore, they painted and greased their faces. 

In this way, then, occurred the loss of their grandeur and the decadence of their empire. 

And this was what Hunahpii and Xbalanque did. 10 

Meanwhile, the grandmother was crying and lamenting before the reeds which they had left 
planted. The reeds sprouted, then they dried up when [the boys] were consumed in the bonfire; 
afterward [the reeds] sprouted again. Then the grandmother lighted the fire and burned incense 

Page 117 of 196 

before the reeds in memory of her grandchildren. And the grandmother's heart filled with joy 
when, for the second time, the reeds sprouted. Then they were worshiped by the grandmother, and 
she called them the Center of the House, Nicah [the center] they were called. 

"Green reeds growing in the plains" [Cazam Ah Chatam Uleu] was their name. And they were 
called the Center of the House and the Center, because in the middle of the house they planted the 
reeds. And the reeds, which were planted, were called the plains, Green Reeds growing on the 
plains. They also were called Green Reeds because they had resprouted. This name was given 
them by Xmucane [given] to those [reeds] which Hunahpii and Xbalanque left planted in order 
that they should be remembered by their grandmother. 

Well, now, their fathers, those who died long ago, were Hun-Hunahpii and Vucub-Hunahpu. They 
also saw the faces of their fathers there in Xibalba and their fathers talked with their descendants, 
that is the ones who overthrew those of Xibalba. 

And here is how their fathers were honored by them. They honored Vucub-Hunahpu; they went to 
honor him at the place of sacrifice of the ball-court. 11 And at the same time they wanted to make 
Vucub-Hunahpu' s face. They hunted there for his entire body, his mouth, his nose, his eyes. They 
found his body, but it could do very little. 12 It could not pronounce his name, this Hunahpii. 13 
Neither could his mouth say it. 

And here is how they extolled the memory of their fathers, whom they had left there in the place 
of sacrifice at the ball-court: "You shall be invoked," their sons said to them, when they fortified 
their heart. "You shall be the first to arise, and you shall be the first to be worshiped by the sons 
of the noblemen, by the civilized vassals. Your names shall not be lost. So it shall be!" they told 
their fathers and thus consoled themselves. "We are the avengers of your death, of the pains and 
sorrows which they caused you." Thus was their leave-taking, when they had already overcome 
all the people of Xibalba. 

Then they rose up in the midst of the light, and instantly they were lifted into the sky. One was 
given the sun, the other, the moon. Then the arch of heaven and the face of the earth were lighted. 
And they dwelt in heaven. 

Then the four hundred boys whom Zipacna had killed also ascended, and so they again became 
the companions of [the boys] and were changed into stars in the sky. 


103:1 Xhunapii, Xbalanque, in the original. The initial X denotes the diminutive in Quiche. Here 
it serves to establish the relationship of father and son between Hun-Hunahpii and Xhunahpu. 

103:2 Oh cu pacol re vae qui rail, qui caxcol ri ca cahau, in the original. 

Page 118 of 196 

103:3 X-zaquin chic ch'y quic holomax. I believe I give an approximate interpretation of this 
expression. In another place I have explained that both quic and holomax have the meaning of 
"blood." Here, says Brasseur de Bourbourg, there is a mysterious play on words which escapes 

103:4 Mavi chahom quicyve, in the original. It is to be remembered that the ball game was 
reserved for the important people. 

103:5 These were occupations of the common people. 

103:6 Xa noh chi tzaco rib ch'y vach. This sentence is very difficult to understand and has been 
translated in many different ways. The verb tzaca has, among other meanings, that of fleeing, 
frightening away, or chasing. 

103:7 Ah-Tza, "those of the war." Ah-Tucur," the owls. "As Brasseur de Bourbourg indicates, 
there may be a relation between these names and those of the Itza, a Maya tribe which lived in the 
northern part of Guatemala, in the region called Peten-Itza, and the settlers of Tucurii, people of 
Verapaz. Undoubtedly the Quiche and Cakchiquel. emigrated from the north, fleeing from the 
tyranny of these tribes, in order to live in freedom in a new land. 

103:8 E quecail, zaquiil, with the appearance of blacks and whites, double appearance, symbol of 
their duplicity. 

103:9 Ahmoxvach, Ahlatzab. Other synonyms which mean originators of evil, wicked, evildoers, 

103:10 Among the legends which Bishop Bartolome de las Casas gathered in Verapaz, there is 
one of a god who had been born in that province and who was called Exbalanquen. "They say of 
him, among other tales," says the chronicler, "that he went to the inferno to make war, fought 
with all the people there, overcame them, and seized the king and many of his army. On his return 
to earth, Exbalanquen brought the king of the inferno with him, but when they were a few steps 
from the surface, he [the king] begged not to be taken up and giving him a kick he [Exbalanquen] 
said to him: 'Go back and let yours be all that is rotten and cast away and stinks.'" Las Casas adds 
that "in Verapaz, Exbalanquen was not received with the feasting and songs which he wished, and 
he therefore went to another kingdom, where he was received in a manner pleasing to him, and 
they say that this vanquisher of the inferno began to sacrifice men." Apologetica Historia de las 
Indias, Chap. CXXIV, p. 330. It is too bad that this historian has not transcribed in his work the 
"other fables" which the people of Verapaz told, and which possibly coincided with the legends 
contained in the Popol Vuh, judging from this version of the deeds of Exbalanquen or Xbalanque. 

103:11 Pucbal-Chah. 

103:12 Xa cu zcaquin chic x-cha tah vi xere, in the original. 

103:13 Hunahpuil in the original, probably by a lapsus calami. Brasseur de Bourbourg thought 
that this was a plural form and that it meant the union of the Hunahpii, but it is evident that the 

Page 119 of 196 

text refers to Vucub-Hunahpu, that is, the second of the Hunahpu. As will be seen, the two young 
heroes found only the head of Vucub-Hunahpu buried in the ball-court, and spoke only with it. It 
must be remembered that the head of Hun-Hunahpu was taken from his body and fastened in the 
branches of the calabash tree where it was confused with the fruit of the tree. 

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PART III: Chapter 1 

rlere, then is the beginning of when it was decided to make man, and when what must enter into 
the flesh of man was sought. 

And the Forefathers, the Creators and Makers, who were called Tepeu and Gucumatz said: "The 
time of dawn has come, let the work be finished, and let those who are to nourish and sustain us 
appear, the noble sons, the civilized vassals; let man appear, humanity, on the face of the earth." 
Thus they spoke. 

They assembled, came together and held council in the darkness and in the night; then they sought 
and discussed, and here they reflected and thought. In this way their decisions came dearly to 
light and they found and discovered what must enter into the flesh of man. 

It was just before the sun, the moon, and the stars appeared over the Creators and Makers. 

From Paxil, from Cayala, 1 as they were called, came the yellow ears of corn and the white ears of 

These are the names of the animals which brought the food: 2 yac (the mountain cat), utiu (the 
coyote), quel (a small parrot), and hoh (the crow). These four animals gave tidings of the yellow 
ears of corn and the white ears of corn, they told them that they should go to Paxil and they 
showed them the road to Paxil. 3 

And thus they found the food, and this was what went into the flesh of created man, the made 
man; this was his blood; of this the blood of man was made. So the corn entered [into the 
formation of man] by the work of the Forefathers. 

And in this way they were filled with joy, because they had found a beautiful land, full of 
pleasures, abundant in ears of yellow corn and ears of white corn, and abundant also in pataxte 
and cacao, 4 and in innumerable zapotes, anonas, jocotes, nantzes, matasanos, and honey. 5 There 
was an abundance of delicious food in those villages called Paxil and Cayala. There were foods of 
every kind, small and large foods, small plants and large plants. 

The animals showed them the road. And then grinding the yellow corn and the white corn, 
Xmucane made nine drinks, and from this food came the strength and the flesh, and with it they 
created the muscles and the strength of man. This the Forefathers did, Tepeu and Gucumatz, as 
they were called. 

After that they began to talk about the creation and the making of our first mother and father; of 
yellow corn and of white corn they made their flesh; of corn-meal dough they made the arms and 
the legs of man. Only dough of corn meal went into the flesh of our first fathers, the four men, 
who were created. 

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105:1 Paxil means separation, spreading of the waters, inundation. Cayald, derived from cay, 
"rotten," may also be interpreted as putrid matter in the water. These legendary places which gave 
to the Middle American people the native fruits which are the base of their subsistence and 
economic development, were found, in the opinion of Brasseur de Bourbourg, in the region of 
Tabasco, where the Usumacinta River, after watering northern Guatemala, divides into various 
branches and overflows this entire region during the period when the rivers rise. This 
phenomenon is similar in its cause and effects to the inundations by the Nile, that spread the 
fertile sediment which produces the rich harvests of Egypt. Bancroft believed that Paxil and 
Cayala were in the region of Palenque and the Usumacinta. Both opinions would have some 
foundation, if it were possible to establish the location of these mythological places, for that was, 
without doubt, the region which was inhabited for some time by the Guatemalan tribes in their 
wanderings toward the lands of the south. 

105:2 Echd, "food," "nourishment." In the case of man, echd is the cooked and ground corn 
which was the common food of the American Indian, and which the Quiche thought, logically, 
had been used to fashion the first men. 

105:3 "Which was the paradise," Ximenez adds in his first version, of their own harvest. The 
Cakchiquel Manuscript says that, when the Creator and the Maker made man, they had nothing 
with which to feed him until they found corn in Paxil, fighting for it with two animals, the coyote 
and the crow, who knew where it was raised. The coyote was killed in the middle of the cornfield. 
From the dough of the corn, mixed with the blood of the snake, the flesh of man was made. The 
Mexican legend tells of the discovery of corn in a similar way. According to the Codice 
Chimalpopoca, Azcatl, the ant, told Quetzalcoatl that there was corn in Tonacatepetl (mountain of 
our subsistence). Quetzalcoatl immediately changed himself into a black ant and went with 
Azcatl, entered that place, and brought the corn to Tamoanchan. 

105:4 Cacau in Maya and Quiche, a well-known plant of tropical America. A variety of cacao, 
Theobroma bicolor, called pec in Quiche, commonly known under the Mexican name pataxte. 

105:5 Tulul, zapote, mamey in Yucatan, Lucuma mammosa. The anona is well known by this 
name and also as chirimoya, the Quiche name is cavex. The jocote, a name derived from the 
Nahuatl xocotl, Spondias purpurea, L., is the quinom of the Quiche and Cakchiquel. The nantze, 
so called in Nahuatl, Byrsonima crassifolia, is the tapal in the languages of Guatemala. The 
matasano, ahache in these languages, Casimiroa edulis, Llave, and Lex., completes the list of 
those fruits which abound in the hot and temperate lands of Guatemala. 

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III. Chapter 2 

1 hese are the names of the first men who were created and formed: the first man was Balam- 
Quitze, the second, Balam-Acab, the third, Mahucutah, and the fourth was Iqui-Balam. 1 

These are the names of our first mothers and fathers. 2 

It is said that they only were made and formed, they had no mother, they had no father. They were 
only called men. 3 They were not born of woman, nor were they begotten by the Creator nor by 
the Maker, nor by the Forefathers. 4 Only by a miracle, by means of incantation were they created 
and made by the Creator, the Maker, the Forefathers, 5 Tepeu and Gucumatz. And as they had the 
appearance of men, they were men; they talked, conversed, saw and heard, walked, grasped 
things; they were good and handsome men, and their figure was the figure of a man. 

They were endowed with intelligence; they saw and instantly they could see far, they succeeded 
in seeing, they succeeded in knowing all that there is in the world. When they looked, instantly 
they saw all around them, and they contemplated in turn the arch of heaven and the round face of 
the earth. 

The things hidden [in the distance] they saw all, without first having to move; at once they saw 
the world, and so, too, from where they were, they saw it. 

Great was their wisdom; their sight reached to the forests, the rocks, the lakes, the seas, the 
mountains, and the valleys. In truth, they were admirable men. Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, 
Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. 

Then the Creator and the Maker asked them: "What do you think of your condition? Do you not 
see? Do you not hear? Are not your speech and manner of walking good? Look, then! 
Contemplate the world, look [and see] if the mountains and the valleys appear! Try, then, to see!" 
they said to [the four first men]. 

And immediately they [the four first men] began to see all that was in the world. Then they gave 
thanks to the Creator and the Maker: "We really give you thanks, two and three times! § We have 
been created, we have been given a mouth and a face, we speak, we hear, we think, and walk; we 
feel perfectly, and we know what is far and what is near. We also see the large and the small in 
the sky and on earth. We give you thanks, then, for having created us, oh, Creator and Maker! for 
having given us being, oh, our grandmother! oh, our grandfather!" they said, giving thanks for 
their creation and formation. 

They were able to know all, and they examined the four corners, the four points of the arch of the 
sky and the round face of the earth. 

But the Creator and the Maker did not hear this with pleasure. "It is not well what our creatures, 
our works say; they know all, the large and the small," they said. And so the Forefathers held 

Page 123 of 196 

counsel again. "What shall we do with them now? Let their sight reach only to that which is near; 
let them see only a little of the face of the earth! It is not well what they say. Perchance, are they 
not by nature simple creatures of our making? Must they also be gods? And if they do not 
reproduce and multiply when it will dawn, when the sun rises? And what if they do not 
multiply?" z So they spoke. 

"Let us check a little their desires, because it is not well what we see. Must they perchance be the 
equals of ourselves, their Makers, who can, see afar, who know all and see all?" 

Thus spoke the Heart of Heaven, Huracan, Chipi-Caculha, Raxa-Caculha, Tepeu, Gucumatz, the 
Forefathers, Xpiyacoc, Xmucane, the Creator and the Maker. Thus they spoke, and immediately 
they changed the nature of their works, of their creatures. 

Then the Heart of Heaven blew mist into their eyes, which clouded their sight as. when a mirror is 
breathed upon. Their eyes were covered and they could see only what was close, only that was 
clear to them. 

In this way the wisdom and all the knowledge of the four men, the origin and beginning § [of the 
Quiche race], were destroyed. 

In this way were created and formed our grandfathers, our fathers, by the Heart of Heaven, the 
heart of Earth. 


109:1 Ximenez explains the significance of these names as follows: Balam-Quitze means jaguar 
of sweet laughter, or much laughter, or fatal laughter, like poison. Balam-Acab, jaguar of the 
night. Mahucutah, not brushed. Iqui-Balam, jaguar of moon or of chile, black jaguar, in Maya. 
The god of the people of Yucatan was worshiped under the name of "Ek-Balam or Eque-balam, 
black jaguar." (Relaciones de Yucatan, II, 53). It is very difficult, if not impossible, to find the 
true origin of these names. Ximenez' explanation has been generally accepted, although it is not 
entirely satisfactory. It must be noted that balam also has the meaning of "sorcerer, "and that the 
ancient Quiche, who believed in sorcery and incantations, saw their first fathers as sorcerers and 

109:2 Meaning the forefathers, the ancestors. In the next chapter the author begins to call them 
mothers, in the same generic sense. 

109:3 Xa utuquel achih. They had no family name. They had no ancestors. They were the 
beginning of the human race. 

109:4 Rumal ri Ahtzac, Ahbit, ri Alom, Qaholom. 

109:5 Rumal ri Tzacol, Bitol, Alom, Qaholom. 

Page 124 of 196 

109:6 Chi camul camo, oxmul camo. Like the expression "a thousand and one times" in modern 

109:7 Que quiritahic, "they multiply"; qui iaric, as it is in the original, literally, "they bear 
many," "they propagate," are synonyms, derived from the adverb of quantity qui, "many." Like 
multos, multiplicare in Latin. 

109:8 U xe u ticaribal. 

Page 125 of 196 

III. Chapter 3 

1 hen their wives had being, and their women were made. God himself made them carefully. 1 
And so, during sleep, they came, truly beautiful, their women, at the side of Balam-Quitze, 
Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. 

There were their women when they awakened, and instantly their hearts were filled with joy 
because of their wives. 

Here are the names of their wives: Caha-Paluna was the name of the wife of Balam-Quitze; 
Chomiha was the wife of Balam-Acab; Tzununiha, the wife of Mahucutah; and Caquixaha was 
the name of the wife of Iqui-Balam. These are the names of their wives, who were distinguished 
women. 2 

They conceived the men, of the small tribes and of the large tribes, and were the origin of us; the 
people of Quiche. 

There were many priests and sacrificers; there were not only four, but those four were the 
Forefathers 3 of us, the people of the Quiche. 

The names of each one were different when they multiplied there in the East, and there were 
many names of the people: Tepeu, Oloman, Cohah, Quenech, Ahau, as they called those men 
there in the East, where they multiplied. 4 

The beginning is known, too, of those of Tamub and those of Ilocab who came together from 
there in the East. 5 

Balam-Quitze was the grandfather and the father of the nine great houses of the Cavec; Balam- 
Acab was the grandfather and father of the nine great houses of the Nimhaib; Mahucutah, the 
grandfather and father of the four great houses of Ahau-Quiche. 

Three groups of families existed; but they did not forget the name of their grandfather and father, 
those who propagated and multiplied there in the East. 

The Tamub and Ilocab also came, and thirteen branches of peoples, the thirteen of Tecpan, and 
those of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, those from Tziquinaha, and the Zacaha and the Lamaq, Cumatz, 
Tuhalha, Uchabaha, those of Chumilaha, those of Quibaha, of Batenaba, Acul-Vinac, Balamiha, 
the Canchahel, and Balam-Colob. § 

These are only the principal tribes, the branches of the people which we mention; only of the 
principal ones shall we speak. Many others came from each group of the people, but we shall not 
write their names. They also multiplied there in the East. 

Page 126 of 196 

Many men were made and in the darkness they multiplied. Neither the sun nor the light had yet 
been made when they multiplied. All lived together, they existed in great number and walked 
there in the East. 

Nevertheless, they did not sustain nor maintain [their God]; they only raised their faces to the sky, 
and they did not know why they had come so far as they did. 

There they were then, in great number, the black men and the white men, men of many classes, 
men of many tongues, that it was wonderful to hear them. 7 

There are generations in the world, there are country people, whose faces we do not see, who have 
no homes, they only wander through the small and large woodlands, like crazy people. So it is 
said scornfully of the people of the wood. So they said there, where they saw the rising of the sun. 

The speech of all was the same. They did not invoke wood nor stone, a and they remembered the 
word of the Creator and the Maker, the Heart of Heaven, the Heart of Earth. 

in this manner they spoke, while they thought about the coming of the dawn. 9 And they raised 
their prayers, those worshipers of the word [of God], loving, obedient, and fearful, raising their 
faces to the sky when they asked for daughters and sons: 

"Oh you, Tzacol, Bitol! 10 Look at us, hear us! Do not leave us, do not abandon us, oh, God, who 
are in heaven and on earth, Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth! Give us our descendants, our 
succession, as long as the sun shall move and there shall be light. Let it dawn; let the day come! 
Give us many good roads, flat roads! May the people have peace, much peace, and may they be 
happy; and give us good life and useful existence! 11 Oh, you Huracan, Chipi-Caculha, Raxa- 
Caculha, Chipi-Nanauac, Raxa-Nanauac, Voc, Hunahpu, Tepeu, Gucumatz, Alom, Qaholom, 
Xpiyacoc, Xmucane, grandmother of the sun, grandmother of the light, let there be dawn, and let 
the light come!" 12 

Thus they spoke while they saw and invoked the coming of the sun, the arrival of day; and at the 
same time they saw the rising of the sun, they contemplated the Morning Star, the Great Star, 
which comes ahead of the sun, that lights up the arch of the sky and the surface of the earth, and 
illuminates the steps of the men who had been created and made. 


113:1 Xavi Cabahuil x-naohin chic. Naohin means to make something carefully. 

113:2 Ximenez (Historia . . . de Chiapa y Guatemala, I, 35) interprets these names as follows: 
Caha-Paluna, standing water (vertical) falling from above; Chomiha, beautiful, chosen water; 
Tzununihd, water of hummingbirds; Caquixahd, water of the macaw. The Titulo de los Sehores de 
Totonicapdn gives the names of the wives of those Quiche heroes with some differences: "The 

Page 127 of 196 

wife of Balam-Quitze was called Zaka-Paluma, the wife of Balam-Agab was Tzununi-ha; that of 
Mahucutah, Cakixa-ha; Iqui-Balam was single." 

113:3 Ri qui chuch oh quiche vinac, literally "the mothers of us, the Quiche." Chuch, "mothers," 
here has the generic meaning, as the word "fathers" has in Spanish, and both are understood as the 

113:4 It is possible to recognize among these names that of Tepeu, which in other places in this 
book is applied to the Yaquis, Yaqui-Tepeu, one of the tribes of Toltec origin who emigrated 
together with the Quiche. The people of Oloman, who are the Olmeca, Olmeca-xicalanca, who 
lived at the south of Veracruz, may be identified as those with whom the Quiche were likewise 
intimately united. 

113:5 Copichoch, Cochochlam, Mahquinalon, and Ahcanabil were the chiefs of the tribe of 
Tamub whose names are found in the Titulo de los Sehores de Totonicapdn and in the Historia 
Quiche de D. Juan de Torres, an unpublished manuscript which also describes the succession of 
these chiefs. Brasseur de Bourbourg (Popol Vuh, p. cclxi) makes known the names of the chiefs 
of the tribe of Ilocab, which he took from another manuscript, the Titulo de los Sehores de 
Sacapulas, which was in his possession. These names, which also appear in the Titulo de 
Totonicapdn, are as follows: Chi-Ya-Toh, Chi-Ya-Tziquin, Xol-Chi-Tum, Xol-Chi-Ramag, and 

113:6 These thirteen tribes of Tecpan, which the Titulo de Totonicapdn calls Vukamag Tecpam, 
are the Pocomam and Poconchi tribes, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg. The tribe of Rabinal 
was established in the interior of the present Republic of Guatemala, and its descendants still form 
an important center of Quiche population. The Cakchiquel constituted a strong and numerous 
kingdom, a rival of the Quiche Kingdom, which had as its capital, Iximche (native name of the 
tree now called bread-nut or ramon in Spanish). The Mexicans called Iximche Tecpdn- 
Quauhtemdllan, from which comes the present name of Guatemala. The tribe of Tziquinaha took 
as its capital the city of Atitlan, and occupied the western part of the territory surrounding the lake 
of this same name. Zacaha is the present Salcaja, close to the modern city of Quetzaltenango. 
Lamac, Cumatz, Tuhalhd, and Uchabahd were on the outskirts of Sacapulas, according to 
Brasseur de Bourbourg. It has not been possible to identify the rest of the tribes. That of Balamihd 
may be the tribe which established itself in the place now called Balamya, in the department of 

113:7 In the original this paragraph reads as follows: Ta x-qohe pa qui chiri queca vinac, zaqui 
vinac, qui vachibal vinac, qui u chabal vinac, cay u xiquin. Brasseur de Bourbourg changed the 
meaning of qui, "much," for quiy, "sweet," and says in his translation that "sweet was the 
appearance of those peoples, sweet the language of those peoples." Qui vachibal vinac means 
literally "men of many forms, aspects, or appearances." Qui u chabal vinac, "many were the 
tongues of the men." Evidently the author was trying to give the idea of the multitude of different 
people, strange to each other, blacks and whites, that is, of light skin and of dark skin, and of the 
many different tongues which were in the East. The Quiche, however, maintained their ethnic 
unity and their common tongue in the midst of this Babylon, as is seen farther on. Ximenez 
translates the end of the paragraph saying "there were many languages and of two ears," which 

Page 128 of 196 

lacks meaning. In his second version (Historia . . . de Chiapas y Guatemala, I, 36) he tries to 
explain the sentence and says "that they hear and understand each other through the diversity of 
languages." Cay, cab, or caib is the number "2," but the first form, which is the one used in the 
text also means to see or hear with wonder, and this is probably the idea which it means to 
express here. 

113:8 That is, the idols. 

113:9 "They were only waiting for the sunrise" is Ximenez' interpretation. 

113:10 Creator and Maker. 

113:11 Utzilah qazlem, vinaquirem ta puch coh a ya vi. 

113:12 The Quiche pantheon appears complete in this paragraph with the addition of the two new 
names, Voc and the large and small Nanauac. The first, Voc or vac, the hawk, was the messenger 
of Huracan who came to be present at the ball game of Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu, 
according to the account in a previous chapter of the Quiche book. Nanauac, the Omniscient, 
according to Brasseur de Bourbourg is the same person who, with the name Nanahuatl (the 
disfigured), appears in the Codice Chimalpopoca. 

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III. Chapter 4 

JJalam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam said, "Let us await the break of day." 
So said those great wise men, the enlightened men, the priests and sacrificers. This they said. 

Our first mothers and fathers did not yet have wood nor stones to keep; 1 but their hearts were 
tired of waiting for the sun. Already all the tribes and the Yaqui people, 2 the priests and 
sacrificers, were very many. 

"Let us go, let us go to search and see if our [tribal] symbols are in safety; if we can find what we 
must burn before them. 3 For being as we are, there is no one who watches for us," said Balam- 
Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. 

And having heard of a city, they went there. 

Now then, the name of the place where Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam 
and those of Tamub and Ilocab went was Tulan-Zuiva, Vucub-Pec, Vucub-Zivan. 4 This was the 
name of the city where they went to receive their gods. 

So, then, all arrived at Tulan. It was impossible to count the men who arrived; there were very 
many and they walked in an orderly way. 

Then was the appearance of their gods; first those of Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and 
Iqui-Balam, who were filled with joy: "At last we have found that for which we searched!" they 

And the first that appeared was Tohil, as this god was called, and Balam-Quitze put him on his 
back, in his chest. 5 Instantly the god called Avilix appeared, and Balam-Acab carried him. The 
god called Hacavitz was carried by Mahucutah; and Iqui-Balam carried the one called 
Nicahtacah. 6 

And together with the people of the Quiche, they also received those of Tamub. And in the same 
way Tohil was the name of the god of the Tamub who received the grandfather and father of the 
Lords of Tamub, whom we know today. 

In the third place were those of Ilocab. Tohil was also the name of the god who was received by 
the grandfathers and the fathers of the lords, whom we also know today. 

In this way, the three Quiche [families] were given their names and they did not separate, because 
they had a god of the same name, Tohil of the Quiche, Tohil of the Tamub and [Tohil] of the 
Ilocab; one only was the name of the god, 7 and therefore the three Quiche [families] did not 

Great indeed was the virtue of the three, Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. 

Page 130 of 196 

Then all the people arrived, those from Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, those from Tziquinaha, and the 
people who now are called the Yaqui. And there it was that the speech of the tribes changed; their 
tongues became different. They could no longer understand each other clearly after arriving at 
Tulan. There also they separated, there were some who had to go to the East, 8 but many came 

And their clothing was only the skins of animals; they had no good clothes to put on, the skins of 
animals were their only dress. They were poor, they possessed nothing, but they had the nature of 
extraordinary men. 

When they arrived at Tulan-Zuiva, Vucub-Pec, Vucub-Zivan, the old traditions say that they had 
traveled far in order to arrive there. 


116:1 Which means idols. 

116:2 Yaqui-Vinac, ahqixb, ahcahb, the Mexicans, the ancient Tolteca, the Nahuatl tribe, which 
united with the Maya of the south, were the origin of the Indian nations of Guatemala. The author 
calls the Yaquis the priests and sacrificers, and these same names are given in various places to 
the Quiche chiefs, Balam-Quitze and his companions. In describing the death of these chiefs, the 
text designates them in this way: "the chiefs and sacrificers, so called." Cf end of Chap. 5, Part 

116:3 Chi ca ric ri coh tzihon ta chuvach, evidently they searched for the incense to burn before 
the gods. 

116:4 This passage of the Popol Vuh is very interesting as proof of the common origin of the 
Quiche and the other peoples of Guatemala, and of the tribes which established themselves in 
ancient times in various parts of Mexico and Yucatan. Tulan-Zuiva, the Cave of Tulan, Vucub- 
Pec, Seven Caves, and Vucub-Zivan, Seven Ravines, are the Quiche names of the place to which 
Mexican tradition gives the name of Chicomoztoc, which in Nahuatl also means Seven Caves. In 
the Manuscript of Sahagun from the Academia de la Historic! these words are found: "Our fathers 
had news that from Chicomoztoc they had come, as they themselves said, the seven tribes who 
proceeded from there, born there." (Cf. Seler, Los Cantares de los dioses, in Sahagun, Historia 
General, 1938 ed., V, 84.) According to Maya tradition, the name of the cradle of the human race 
is similar to that which was given by the Quiche, Holtun Cuuyva, the Zuiva Cave, according to 
the Books of Chilan Balam. Although it has not been possible to locate exactly the site of ancient 
Tulan of the caves or ravines, the common tradition preserved in Mexico and Guatemala gives all 
the people of this vast region an origin which, although purely legendary, marks the beginning of 
their historical evolution. The ancient chronicles of Guatemala are remarkable in this sense, for 
the clarity with which they show the movement of the tribes from their place of reunion to the 
places where they finally settled and reached the state of civilization in which the Spaniards found 
them in the early XVIth century. 

Page 131 of 196 

116:5 U coc, in this case is the chest or wooden frame which the Indians bear on their backs and 
in which they carry their products, or burdens, from one place to another. The common name in 
Guatemala is cacaxte, taken, like many others, from the Mexicans. 

116:6 Tohil gets his name from toh, "rain," according to Ximenez. The people of Rabinal called 
him Huntoh, 1 Toh, which is a day of the calendar. Farther on, the author writes that Tohil and 
Quetzalcoatl were the same being. The Cakchiquel Manuscript calls Tohohil the principal god of 
the Quiche. There is no satisfactory etymology for the names of Avilix and Hacavitz. Nicahtacah, 
literally "in the middle of the plain," does not appear again in the narration, probably because 
Iqui-Balam had a very secondary part, and did not leave descendants. Explaining the origin of the 
name Tohohil, the Cakchiquel Manuscript says that when the tribes were in the region of the 
Laguna de Terminos, before going southward into the mountains of Guatemala, the Quiche said: 
Xaqui tohoh quihilil xibe chi cah, or "thus like it thundered and resounded in the sky," and adds, 
"in truth in the sky is our salvation. Thus they said and for that reason they were called those of 
Tohohil." The name Tohil, is, in effect, associated with the idea of rain and thunder, as stated at 
the beginning of this note. 

116:7 Xahun u bi u cabauil, in the original. 

116:8 To Yucatan. 

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III. Chapter 5 

rVnd they did not have fire. Only the people of Tohil had it. He was the god of the tribes which 
first created fire. It is not known how it was made, because it was already burning when Balam- 
Quitze and Balam-Acab saw it. 

"Ah, we have no fire yet! We shall die of cold," they said. Then Tohil said to them: "Do not 
worry! Yours shall be the lost fire which is talked of. Yours shall be what is spoken of as lost 
fire," Tohil said to them. 

"Really? Oh, God, our support, our maintenance, you, our God!" they said, returning thanks. 

And Tohil answered: "Very well, certainly I am your God; so shall it be! I am your Lord; so let it 
be!" Thus it was told to the priests and sacrificers by Tohil. And in this manner the tribes received 
fire and they were joyful because of it. 

Instantly a great shower began to fall when the fire of the tribes was burning. Much hail fell on all 
the tribes and the fire was put out because of it, and again the fire was extinguished. 

Then Balam-Quitze and Balam-Acab again asked Tohil for fire. "Oh, Tohil, we are truly dying of 
cold!" they said to Tohil. 

"Very well, do not worry," Tohil answered, and instantly he made fire, turning about in his shoe. 1 

Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were at once happy and immediately 
they became warm. 

Now, the fire of the peoples [of Vucamag] had also gone out and they were dying of cold, 
immediately they came to ask Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam for fire. 
They could no longer bear the cold nor the ice; they were shivering and their teeth were 
chattering; they were numb; their legs and hands shook and they could not hold anything in them, 
when they came. 

"We are not ashamed to come before you, to beg for a little of your fire," they said. But they were 
not well received. 2 And then the tribes were very sad. 

"The speech of Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam is different! Oh! We 
have given up our speech! What have we done? We are lost. How were we deceived? We had 
only one speech when we arrived there at Tulan; we were created and educated in the same way. 
It is not good what we have done," said all the tribes under the trees, under the vines. 

Then a man came before Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam and [this man], 
who was a messenger of Xibalba, spoke thus: "This is, in truth, your God; this is your support; 
this is, furthermore, the representation, the memory of your Creator and Maker. Do not give your 

Page 133 of 196 

fire to the tribes until they present offerings to Tohil. It is not necessary that they give anything to 
you. 3 Ask Tohil what they should give when they come to receive fire," said the man from 
Xibalba. He had wings like the wings of a bat. a "I am sent by your Creator, your Maker," said the 
man of Xibalba. 

They were filled with joy then, and Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz were also gladdened when the 
man from Xibalba spoke, who disappeared instantly from their presence. 5 

But the tribes did not perish when they came, although they were dying of cold, § There was much 
hail, black rain and mist, and indescribable cold. 

All the tribes were trembling and shivering with cold when they came where Balam-Quitze, 
Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were. Their hearts were greatly troubled and their 
mouths and eyes were sad. 

In a moment the beggars 7 came before Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam 
and said: "Will you not have pity on us, we only ask a little of your fire? Perchance, were we not 
[once] together and reunited? Did we not have the same home and one country when we were 
created, when we were made? Have mercy, then, on us!" they said. 

"What will you give us so that we shall have mercy on you?" they were asked. 

"Well, then, we shall give you money," the tribes answered. 

"We do not want money," said Balam-Quitze and Balam-Acab. 

"And what do you want?" [asked the tribes]. 

"We shall ask now" [said Balam-Quitze]. 

"Very well, "said the tribes. 

"We shall ask Tohil and then we shall tell you," they answered. 

"What must the tribes give, oh, Tohil! who have come to ask for your fire?" said Balam-Quitze, 
Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. 

"Well! Are they willing to give their waist and their armpits? g Do they want me to embrace 
them? For if they do not want to do that, neither shall I give them fire," answered Tohil. 

"Tell them that this shall come later, that they do not have to come now to give me their waist and 
their armpits. This is what Tohil orders us to tell you, you will say." This was the answer to 
Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. 

Then they took Tohil's message. "Very well, we shall join you and we shall embrace him," they 
[the people] said when they heard and were told the message from Tohil. And they did not delay 

Page 134 of 196 

in acting. "Good," they said, "but may it be soon!" And immediately they received the fire. Then 
they became warm. 


120:1 X-u bac uloc chupan u xahab. I give the Ximenez version. The expression undoubtedly 
refers to the primitive way of making fire by means of a stick which the Indians twirled rapidly in 
a hole in another stick. According to the Titulo de los Sehores de Totonicapdn, Balam-Quitze and 
his companions were "beginning to rub wood and stones, those who first made fire." The tribes of 
Vucamag only succeeded in having the Quiche give them "a little" of their fire by offering them 
their daughters. 

120:2 Ma cu habi x-e culaxic. 

120:3 M'yv ahauah chi quiya ch'yve. The verb ahauax, according to Ximenez, means "to be 
convenient," "to be necessary." 

120:4 Qo uxic queheri uxic zotz. I follow Ximenez in his interpretation of this phrase, which he 
reads Qo u xic queheri u xic zotz. Brasseur de Bourbourg translates it that the form of the 
messenger was like a bat. The text, however, clearly says that the one who presented himself 
before Balam-Quitze and his companions was a man; a man who had wings like those of a 

120:5 The appearance of this "man of Xibalba," demonium loquens eis, or demon of which they 
spoke, is curious, according to what Ximenez says of him in the original manuscript. Evidently, 
and in a general sense, Xibalba was for the Quiche the world of ghosts and phantoms. In the 
present episode the messenger, who comes to advise the priests, presents himself as one sent from 
the Creator and Maker, but there is reason to suspect his identity. 

120:6 Mavi x-mainic ta x-e ul chicut ri amag que utzin rumal teu, as it is in the original. 

120:7 E elegom, in the original. Elogom is a substantive derived from the verb "to rob", but here it 
may be an error in the text of the primitive copy. Brasseur de Bourbourg interprets the word as 
meaning d la derobee; other translators render it as meaning "in secret," "desolate." Ximenez 
translates directly as "the thieves." From the Quiche verb elahic, "to pray, supplicate, humiliate" 
themselves, the substantive elahom is formed, giving the idea I prefer in this place, and which 
seems to conform more nearly to the meaning of the passage concerned. 

120:8 Ma chi c'ah qui tunic xe qui toloc, xepu qui mezquel? That is to say, deliver up the victims 
in order that they may be sacrificed, in the Mexican style, by opening their breasts with the flint 
knife and offering their hearts to the god. The same idea is repeated farther on in more 
unequivocal terms. 

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III. Chapter 6 

1 here was nevertheless a tribe who stole the fire in the smoke; 1 and they were from the house of 
Zotzil. 2 The god of the Cakchiquel was called Chamalcdn 3 and he had the form of a bat. 

When they passed through the smoke, they went softly and then they seized the fire. The 
Cakchiquel did not ask for the fire, because they did not want to give themselves up to be 
overcome, the way that the other tribes had been overcome when they offered their breasts and 
their armpits so that they would be opened. And this was the opening [of the breasts] about which 
Tohil had spoken; that they should sacrifice all the tribes before him, that they should tear out 
their hearts from their breasts. 

And this had not yet begun when the taking of power and sovereignty by Balam-Quitze, Balam.- 
Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam was prophesied by Tohil. 4 

There in Tulan-Zuiva, whence they had come, they were accustomed to fast, they observed a 
perpetual fast while they awaited the coming of dawn and watched for the rising sun. 

They took turns at watching the Great Star called Icoquih, 5 which rises first before the sun, when 
the sun rises, the brilliant Icoquih, which was always before them in the East, when they were 
there in the place called Tulan-Zuiva, whence came their god. 

It was not here, then, where they received their power and sovereignty, but there they subdued 
and subjected the large and small tribes when they sacrificed them before Tohil, and offered him 
the blood, the substance, breasts, and sides of all the men. 

In Tulan power came instantly to them; great was their wisdom in the darkness and in the night. 

Then they came, they pulled up stakes there and left the East. "This is not our home; let us go and 
see where we should settle," Tohil said then. 

In truth, he was accustomed to talk to Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam: 
"Give thanks before setting out; do what is necessary to bleed your ears, prick your elbows, and 
make your sacrifices, this shall be your thanks to God." 

"Very well, "they said, and took blood from their ears. And they wept in their chants § because of 
their departure from Tulan; their hearts mourned when they left Tulan. 

"Pity us! We shall not see the dawn here, when the sun rises and lights the face of the earth," they 
said at leaving. But they left some people on the road which they followed so that they would 
keep watch. 

Page 136 of 196 

Each of the tribes kept getting up to see the star which was the herald of the sun. This sign of the 
dawn they carried in their hearts when they came from the East, and with the same hope they left 
there, from that great distance, according to what their songs now say. i_ 


123:1 Xa x-relecah ubic gag pa zib, in the original. 

123:2 Zotzild-ha, the house of the zotziles or bats. Thus the royal house of the Cakchiquel was 
called, and its king boasted the title of Ahpo-zotzil, King or Lord Bat. 

123:3 The present Cakchiquel call a serpent of great size chamalcdn. 

123:4 Maha chi tihou oc u banic ta x-nicvachixic rumal Tohil u camic puch gagal tepeual cumal 
ri Balam-Quitze, etc. In interpreting this sentence, the translators of the Popol Vuh have given the 
word camic the common meaning of "death," suggested to them, no doubt, by the idea of the 
human sacrifices of which the previous paragraph speaks. Brasseur de Bourbourg translates this 
paragraph as follows: On n'avaitpas tente cette pratique, quand fut enigmatiquement proposee 
par Tohil leur mort dans I'epouvante et la majeste. Nevertheless, the sentence in Quiche is very 
simple, and it becomes clear by reading camic as the substantive derived from the verb cam, "to 
take," "to receive." The first sentence of the third paragraph following confirms this 
interpretation. The verb nicvachin means "to see at a distance." The prophet, augur, sorcerer, or 
seer is nicvachinel in Quiche. The words gagal, tepeual, signify sovereignty, divine or royal 
majesty, says the Vocabulario de las lenguas Quiche y Kakchiquel. Tepeual is a word of Nahuatl 

123:5 Icoquih, Venus, the precursor of the sun, literally, "who carries the sun on her back" "The 
star of the aurora," says the Vocabulario de los P. P. Franciscanos, and the Manuscript Yzquin 
which Fuentes y Guzman cites calls it Nimd Chumil, "Great Star," which is exact equivalent to 
the Maya Noh Ek. 

123:6 X-oc cut chupan qui bix. Here the verb oc means "to cry." 

123:7 Las Casas (Apologetica Historia de las Indias, Chap. CLXXIV, p. 459) says that, next to 
the sun, whom they had as their principal lord, they honored and worshiped the Morning Star 
"more than any other heavenly or earthly creature, because they believed it as true that their god 
Quetzalcoatl, when he died, had been changed into that star." And Las Casas adds that each day 
they waited for it to rise in order to venerate it, offering it incense and shedding their own blood 
to honor it. 

Page 137 of 196 

III. Chapter 7 

1 hey came at last to the top of a mountain and there all the Quiche people and the tribes were 
reunited. There they all held council to make their plans. Today this mountain is called Chi- 
Pixab, i this is the name of the mountain. 

There they reunited and there they extolled themselves: "I am, I, the people of the Quiche! And 
you, Tamub, that shall be thy name." And to those from Ilocab they said: "You, Ilocab, this shall 
be thy name. And these three Quiche [peoples] shall not disappear, our fate is the same," 2 they 
said when they gave them their names. 

Then they gave the Cakchiquel their name: Gagchequeleb 3 was their name. In the same way they 
named those of Rabinal, which was their name, and they still have it. And also those of 
Tziquinaha, a as they are called today. Those are the names which they gave to each other. 

There they were come together to await the dawn and to watch for the coming of the star, which 
comes just before the sun, when it is about to rise. "We came from there, but we have separated," 
they said to each other. 

And their hearts were troubled; they were suffering greatly; they did not have food; they did not 
have sustenance; they only smelled the ends of their staffs and thus they imagined they were 
eating; but they did not eat when they came. 5 

It is not quite clear, however, how they crossed the sea; they crossed to this side, as if there were 
no sea; they crossed on stones, placed in a row over the sand. For this reason they were called 
Stones in a Row, Sand Under the Sea, § names given to them when they [the tribes] crossed the 
sea, the waters having parted when they passed. 

And their hearts were troubled when they talked together, because they had nothing to eat, only a 
drink of water and a handful of corn they had. 7 

There they were, then, assembled on the mountain called Chi-Pixab. And they had also brought 
Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. Balam-Quitze and his wife Caha-Paluna, which was the name of his 
wife, observed a complete fast. And so did Balam-Acab and his wife, who was called Chomiha; 
and Mahucutah and his wife, called Tzununiha, also observed a complete fast, and Iqui-Balam. 
with his wife, called Caquixaha, likewise. 

And there were those who fasted in the darkness, and in the night. Great was their sorrow when 
they were on the mountain, called Chi-Pixab. 


Page 138 of 196 

125:1 "The mandate, or council." Probably it is the same place which the Titulo de los Senores de 
Totonicapdn calls Chi-Quiche. According to this document, the tribes left Tulan Pa Civan 
(between ravines), crossed the sea, arrived at the edge of a lake where they made huts (houses 
with roof of straw), but disgusted with the place, they continued on to the place called Chicpach, 
where they lived, and leaving a stone there as a monument, they continued their wanderings, 
nourishing themselves with roots. They arrived at another place which they named Chi-Quiche 
and finally came to a hill which they called Hacavitz-Chipal, "where they settled." 

125:2 Xa hunam ca tzih. Tzih has several meanings: word, opinion, history, fate, or destiny. 

125:3 Those of the red tree, or of fire. 

125:4 The people of Rabinal still preserve their old name. Tziquinaha is the present town of 
Santiago Atitian and was the capital of the Zutuhil. 

125:5 The Cakchiquel Manuscript describes in similar terms the hardship and hunger suffered by 
the tribes: "There was nothing to eat . . . everything was lacking, we nourished ourselves With the 
bark of trees, we only smelled the end of our canes and with this felt satisfied"; xa ca ti ca zee ru 
xe ca chamey ti cuquer vi ca cux ruma, in the Cakchiquel tongue. 

125:6 Cholochic-Abah, Bocotahinac-Zanaieb. 

125:7 Hu uq chi qui cumeh ri, xa huma ixim, in the original. 

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III. Chapter 8 

rVnd their gods spoke to them again. Thus Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz spoke to Balam-Quitze, 
Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam: "Let us go, let us get up, let us not stay here, take us to 
a secret place! Already dawn draws near. Would it not be a disgrace for you if we were 
imprisoned by our enemies within these walls where you, the priests and sacrificers. keep us? Put 
each of us, then, in a safe place," 1 they said when they spoke. 

"Very well. We shall go on, we shall go in search of the forests," all answered. 

Immediately after, they took up their gods and put them on their backs. In this way they carried 
Avilix to the ravine called Euabal-Zivan, 2 so named by them, to the large ravine of the forest, 
now called Pavilix, 3 and there they left him. In this ravine he was left by Balam-Acab. 

They were left one by one. The first one left was Hacavitz, he was left on a large red pyramid, a 
on the mountain now called Hacavitz. There they founded their town, there in the place where the 
god called Hacavitz, was. 

In the same way, Mahucutah left his god, who was the second one hidden by them. 

Hacavitz was not in the forest, but on a hill cleared of trees, Hacavitz was hidden. 

Then Balam-Quitze came, he came there to the large forest; Balam-Quitze came to hide Tohil at 
the hill which is today called Patohil. Then they celebrated the hiding of Tohil in the ravine, in his 
refuge. A great quantity of snakes, jaguars, vipers, and candles s were in the forest where they 
were hidden by the priests and sacrificers. 

Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah. and Iqui-Balam were together; together they awaited the 
dawn, there on the mountain, called Hacavitz. 

And a short distance away, was the god of the people of Tamub and of the people of Ilocab. 
Amac-Tan, g the place is called, where the god of the Tamub [people] was, and there dawn came 
to the tribes. The place where those from Ilocab awaited the dawn was called Amac-Uquincat; 7 
there was the god of those of Ilocab, a short distance from the mountain. 

There, too, were all the people of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, the Tziquinaha, all the small tribes, 
and the large tribes. Together they stayed, awaiting the coming of the dawn and the rising of the 
large star called Icoquih, which rises just before the sun, when it dawns, according to the legend. 

There they were together, then, Balam-Quitze. Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. They 
did not sleep; they remained standing and great was the anxiety of their hearts and their stomachs 
for the coming of dawn and the day. There, too, they felt shame; they were overcome with great 
sorrow, great suffering, and they were oppressed with pain. 

Page 140 of 196 

They had come that far. "Oh. we have come without joy! If only we could see the rising of the 
sun! What shall we do now? If we lived in harmony in our country, why did we leave it?" they 
said to each other, in the midst of their sadness and affliction, and with mournful voices. 

They talked, but they could not calm their hearts which were anxious for the coming of the dawn. 
"The gods are seated in the ravines, in the forests, they are among the air-plants, among the 
mosses, 8 not even a seat of boards were they given," they said. 

First there were Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. Great was their glory, their strength, and their power 
over the gods of all the tribes. Many were their miracles, and countiess their journeys, and their 
pilgrimages in the midst of the cold; and the hearts of the tribes were filled with fear. 

But calm were the hearts of Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. With 
respect to them [the gods]. They felt no anxiety in their hearts for the gods whom they had 
received, and had carried on their backs when they came there from Tulan-Zuiva, from there in 
the East. 

They were there, then, in the forest, now called Zaquiribal, Pa-Tohil, P'Avilix, Pa-Hacavitz. 9 

And next came the dawn, and light shone for our grandparents and our parents. 

Now we shall tell of the coming of the dawn and the appearance of the sun, the moon, and the 


129:1 Huhun ta cutyya vi. The verb ya, yac, is used here in the sense of guarding, to have 
custody, to insure, Diccionario Cakchiquel. 

129:2 Ravine of the hiding place. 

129:3 In Avilix. 

129:4 Hun nima caq ha, a large mound, painted red, an artificial pyramid such as the Indians 
constructed as a base for their temples. On some of these the red paint is still preserved. They 
lived for many years in Hacavitz-Chipal, says the Titulo de Totonicapdn. According to Brasseur 
de Bourbourg, the mountain Hacavitz is one of those which rises to the north of Rabinal three 
leagues from the Chixoy River. In the Cuchumatan Mountains, to the cast of the Chixoy River, 
and at an altitude of 5,900 feet, there is the archaeological site of Chipal which might be the 
ancient Hacavitz-Chipal. 

129:5 Canti, a variety of poisonous serpent, Trigonocephalus specialis. The ancient Indians 
thought that these serpents were minor gods of their mythology. 

Page 141 of 196 

129:6 The tribe of Tan, Amagtan in the Titulo de Totonicapdn. 

129:7 The name Uquincat might mean "net of gourds," from uqui, a tree which produces a fruit 
resembling the gourd, and cat, "net." The Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapdn mentions this 
place under the name of Uquin, and adds that together with the tribes of Tamub and Ilocab there 
were the thirteen tribes called Vucamag-Tecpan. 

129:8 Xa pa ec, xa pa atziac e qo vi. Ec is the Tillandsia Species pluribus, a bromeliaceous plant 
which lives on trees, as was said before. Atziac is another bromeliaceous plant which also grows 
on trees, and its thick fibres, similar to gray hair, hang to the ground. Its common name in 
Guatemala is paxte, derived from the Nahuatl word paxtle. An epiphyte Dendropogon usneoides, 
incorrectly called moss of Florida and Spanish moss in the southern part of the United States. 

129:9 The coming of dawn in the mountains of Tohil, of Avilix, and of Hacavitz. The Titulo de 
los Senores de Totonicapdn says that when the chiefs of the Quiche nation disappeared, their 
children found themselves, by a miracle, in the mountains where the gods were, and that since 
that time these mountains are called Zaquiribal-Tohil, Zaquiribal-Avilix, and Zaquiribal-Hacavitz. 

Page 142 of 196 

III. Chapter 9 

rlere, then, is the dawn, and the coming of the sun, the moon, and the stars. 

Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were very happy when they saw the 
Morning Star. It rose first, with shining face, when it came ahead of the sun. 

Immediately they unwrapped the incense 1 which they had brought from the East, and which they 
had planned to burn, and then they untied the three gifts which they had planned to offer. 

The incense which Balam-Quitze brought was called Mixtan-Pom; the incense which Balam- 
Acab brought was called Cavixtan-Pom; and that which Mahucutah brought was called Cabauil- 
Pom. 2 The three had their incense and burned it when they began to dance facing toward the East. 

They wept for joy as they danced and burned their incense, their precious incense. Then they wept 
because they did not yet behold nor see the sunrise. 

But, then, the sun came up. The small and large animals were happy; and arose from the banks of 
the river, in the ravines, and on the tops of the mountains, and all turned their eyes to where the 
sun was rising. 

Then the puma and the jaguar roared. But first the bird called Queletzii 3 burst into song. In truth, 
all the animals were happy, and the eagle, the white vulture; a the small birds and the large birds 
stretched their wings. 

The Priests and the sacrificers were kneeling; great was the joy of the priests and sacrificers and 
of the people of Tamub and Ilocab and the people of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, those from 
Tziquinaha, and those from Tuhalha, Uchabaha, Quibaha, from Batena, and the Yaqui Tepeu, all 
those tribes which exist today. And it was not possible to count the people. The light of dawn fell 
upon all the tribes at the same time. 

Instantly the surface of the earth was dried by the sun. Like a man was the sun when it showed 
itself, and its face glowed when it dried the surface of the earth. 

Before the sun rose, damp and muddy was the surface of the earth, before the sun came up; but 
then the sun rose, and came up like a man. And its heat was unbearable. 5 It showed itself when it 
was born and remained fixed [in the sky] like a mirror. Certainly it was not the same sun which 
we see, it is said in their old tales. 

Immediately afterward Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz were turned to stone, together with the deified 
beings § the puma, the jaguar, the snake, the cantil, and the hobgoblin. Their arms became 
fastened to the trees when the sun, the moon, and the stars appeared. All alike, were changed into 
stone. Perhaps we should not be living today 7 because of the voracious animals, the puma, the 

Page 143 of 196 

jaguar, the snake, and the cantil, as well as the hobgoblin; perhaps our power would not exist if 
these first animals had not been turned into stone by the sun. 

When the sun arose, the hearts of Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were 
filled with joy. Great was their joy when it dawned. And there were not many men at that place; 
only a few were there on the mountain Hacavitz. 8 There dawn came to them, there they burned 
their incense and danced, turning their gaze toward the East, whence they had come. There were 
their mountains and their valleys, whence had come Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and 
Iqui-Balam, as they were called. 

But it was here where they multiplied, on the mountain, and this was their town; here they were, 
too, when the sun, the moon, and the stars appeared, when it dawned and the face of the earth and 
the whole world was lighted. Here, too, began their song, which they call camucu; 9 they sang it, 
but only the pain in their hearts and their innermost selves they expressed in their song. "Oh pity 
us! In Tulan we were lost, we were separated, and there our older and younger brothers stayed. 
Ah, we have seen the sun! but where are they now, that it has dawned?" so said the priests and the 
sacrificers of the Yaqui. 

Because, in truth, the so-called Tohil is the same god of the Yaqui, the one called Yolcuat- 
Quitzalcuat. 10 

"We became separated there in Tulan, in Zuyva, from there we went out together, and there our 
race was created when we came," they said to each other. 

Then they remembered their older brothers and their younger brothers, the Yaqui, to whom dawn 
came there in the land which today is called Mexico. Part of the people remained there in the East, 
those called Tepeu Oliman, who stayed there, they say. 

They felt much grief in their hearts, there in Hacavitz; and sad, too, were the people from Tamub 
and Ilocab, who were also there in the forest called Amac-Tan. 11 where dawn came to the priests 
and sacrificers of Tamub and to their god, who also was Tohil, because one and the same was the 
name of the god of the three branches of the Quiche people. And this is also the name of the god 
of the people of Rabinal, for there is little difference between that and the name of Huntoh, as the 
god of the people of Rabinal is called; for that reason, it is said, they wanted to make their speech 
the same as that of the Quiche. 

Well, the speech of the Cakchiquel is different, because the name of their god was different when 
they came from there, from Tulan-Zuyva. Tzotziha Chimalcan was the name of their god, and 
today they speak a different tongue; and also from their god the families of Ahpozotzil and 
Ahpoxa, 12 as they are called, took their names. 

The speech of the god was also changed when they were given their god there, in Tulan, near the 
stone; 13 their speech was changed when they came from Tulan in the darkness. And being 
together, dawn came to them and the light shone on all the tribes, in the order of the names of the 
gods of each of the tribes. 

Page 144 of 196 


134:1 The Maya and Quiche Indians give the name Pom to the incense or white aromatic resin 
which oozes from a tree, and they used it in their religious ceremonies. This resin is commonly 
known as copal, from the Nahuatl copalli (Protium copal, Engl.). 

134:2 These names have a marked Mexican flavor and seem to come from the Aztec tongue. 
Mixtdn-Pom might be the copal, or incense, which they burned to Mictan Ahau, and Caviztdn- 
Pom that which they offered to Cavestdn Ahau. Father Guzman (Compendio de nombres en 
lengua Cakchiquel) mentions as gods of this tribe, among other minor deities, Mictan Ahau and 
Cavestan Ahau. The Aztec word Mictldn serves to designate the inferno. Cabauil-Pom is clearly 
the incense of the Quiche divinity in general, which is expressed with the word Cabauil, probably 
derived from the Maya Kauil, "god." The variety of incense of the offerings seems to be 
explained by the fact that the Quiche liked to offer "incense of a certain fragrance" to their gods. 

134:3 A climbing bird of the parrot family; quel in Quiche is a kind of parrot or magpie known in 
Guatemala as the chocoyo. 

134:4 Zaccuch, literally a vulture or white buzzard, "white-breasted buzzard," says Father Coto. 
The one called king buzzard, Gypargus papa, is larger than the ordinary vulture. It is also 
distinguished by the combination of its black and white feathers. 

134:5 Ma cu x-chihtahic u qatanal. All the translators have followed the interpretation of 
Ximenez, who translates these words as: "The heat was not great." Chihtahic, however, means "to 
bear," "to suffer," and the negative sentence must be understood in the sense that the heat of the 
sun was unbearable or insufferable. If the heat of the sun had not been intense, it would not have 
dried the damp and muddy surface of the earth. In the recent edition of the Popol Vuh, Schultze 
Jena gives the correct translation of this passage in German. 

134:6 U cabauilal coh, balam, etc. 

134:7 Ma ta oh yacamarinac, "Perhaps we would not be standing." The transformation of the 
animals into stone, according to Chavero, is a symbol of the change of religion, their abandoning 
the old animal nature cult for the worship of the heavenly bodies. 

134:8 Maria e ta quid vinac chi qui qoheic, xa e chutin ta x-e qohe chiri chuvi huyub Hacavitz. 
Ximenez gives a different interpretation to this sentence, as follows: "And the men were not large 
then, but they were small when they were on the hills of Hacavitz." 

134:9 "We see," or "our dove," mucuy in Maya. 

134:10 The great civilizer was worshiped as a divinity by the ancient Mexicans, who gave him 
different names. They called him Ehecatl, or God of the Wind; Yolcuat, or the Rattle Snake; 
Quetzalcoatl, or serpent covered with green feathers. The last meaning corresponds also to the 

Page 145 of 196 

Maya name Kukulcan, and to the Quiche, Gucumatz. Here the text shows that the Quiche also 
identified Quetzalcoatl with their own god Tohil. Both were actually rain gods. 

134:11 Pa quechelah Amac Dan ubi. This place was already named in Chapter 8 of Part III, as the 
residence of the tribe of Tamub. 

134:12 Tzotziha, the house of the zotzils or bats, that is to say of the Cakchiquel, who like the 
Zotzil of Chiapas also had the bat as a symbol. Chimalcan or Chamalcan, as explained in Chapter 
6 of Part III was the name of a serpent, a sacred animal among the peoples of Middle America. 
Ahpozotzil and Ahpoxahil were the names of the king of the Cakchiquel and of his principal 
assistant and heir. The Spaniards gave the former, who was governing in 1524, the name Sinacan, 
from the Nahuatl Tzinacan, which also means "bat." Xahil, which may be translated as "dancer," 
from xah, "to dance," was the name of the second reigning house, and one of its descendants, 
Francisco Hernandez Arana, wrote the Memorial de Solold, which contains the history of the 
Cakchiquel nation. 

134:13 Chirih abah. The meaning of these words is vague. However, it becomes clearer if one 
recalls the constant association of the ancient American divinity with stone. The Book ofChilan 
Balam of Chumayel says, describing the creation of the world, that God was hidden in the stone 
when there was neither sky nor earth, and that later he came from the stone and fell into a second 
stone, and then he declared his divinity (Kuil). The Quiche documents speak of the stone which 
Nacxit gave to those tribes when they left Tulan, and which "they used for their incantations. 
"And they add that in Qotuha or Tzutuha they also found a stone similar to that which Nacxit 
gave them, which they, the kings and the people, worshiped. As for the Manuscript of the 
Cakchiquel, it speaks of the obsidian stone, or Chay Abah to which that nation rendered homage. 

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III. Chapter 10 

rVnd now we shall tell of their stay and abode there on the mountain, where the four called 
Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were together. Their hearts mourned for 
Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz, whom they had placed among the air-plants and the moss. 

We shall tell now how they made the sacrifices at the foot of the place where they had carried 
Tohil, when they arrived in the presence of Tohil and Avilix. They went to see them, to greet 
them, and also to give them thanks for the arrival of the dawn. They were in the thicket 1 amidst 
the stones, there in the woods. And only by magic art did they speak when the priests and 
sacrificers came before Tohil. They did not bring great gifts, only resin, the remains of the gum, 
called noh, and pericon, 2 they burned before their gods. 

Then Tohil spoke; only by a miracle he gave counsel to the priests and sacrificers. And they [the 
gods] spoke and said: "Truly here shall be our mountains and our valleys. We are yours; great 
shall be our lory and numerous our descendents, through the work of all men. Yours are all the 
tribes and we, your companions. Care for your town, and we shall give you your learning. 

"Do not show us before the tribes when we are angered by the words of their mouths, or because 
of their conduct. Neither shall you permit us to fall into a snare. Give us, instead, the creatures of 
the woods and of the fields, and also the female deer, and the female birds. 3 Come and give us a 
little of your blood, have pity upon us. You may have the skins of the deer a and guard us from 
those whose eyes have deceived us. s 

"So, then, [the skin of] the deer shall be our symbol which you shall show before the tribes. When 
they ask 'Where is Tohil?' show the deerskin before their eyes. Neither shall you show 
yourselves, for you shall have other things to do. Great shall be their position; you shall dominate 
all the tribes; you shall bring your blood and their substance before us, and those who come to 
embrace us, shall be ours also," thus spoke Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. g 

They had the appearance of youths, when those who came to offer gifts saw them. Then the 
persecution of the young of the birds and of the deer began, and the fruit of the chase was 
received by the priests and sacrificers. And when they found the young of the birds and the deer, 
they went at once to place the blood of the deer and of the birds in the mouths of the stones, that 
were Tohil and Avilix. 

As soon as the blood had been drunk by the gods, the stones spoke, when the priests and the 
sacrificers came, when they came to bring their offerings. And they did the same before their 
symbols, burning pericon and holom-ocox. 7 

The symbols of each one were there where they had been placed on the top of the mountain. But 
they [the priests] did not live in their houses by day, but walked over the mountains, and ate only 
the young horseflies, and the wasps, and the bees which they hunted; they had neither good food 

Page 147 of 196 

nor good drink. And neither were the roads from their homes known, nor did they know where 
their wives had remained. 


137:1 E cu vonovoh, in the dense and thick. 

137:2 Xa col xa r'achac noh ruqyid. Instead of the incense of the East, the Quiche burned a kind 
of aromatic substance on the altars of their gods: turpentine, or the resin from the pine, which they 
called col; pom, which is the copalli of Mexico; the gum called noh, which is another resin, 
according to Ximenez, and the large fan-grass, or hypericum, Tagetes lucida, of the composite 
family made up of them. According to Sahagun, the Aztecs used the grass called yiauhtli, dried 
and ground, which burned like incense and which seems to be the same grass which the Quiche 
called yid. The gum noh which the text mentions may be the same that the Maya of Yucatan call 
xnoh, "resin which drips from the pine" or turpentine, according to Roys. 

137:3 As has been said in another part, by the word queh, "deer," all quadrupeds are understood. 

137:4 Ch'y canah cut r'izmal ri queh. The text probably refers to the skin of the deer covered 
with hair, which the priests must show to the people instead of the real gods of the Quiche, thus 
obeying the command of Tohil. 

137:5 Ch'y chahih are e ri u mucuvach chi mich canoe, in the original. 

137:6 It will be noted here that the three gods spoke together to the tribes. 

137:7 "Which is a grass," says Ximenez; literally, head of a mushroom. 

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PART IV: Chapter 1 

IN ow, then, many towns were being founded, one by one, and the different branches of the tribes 
were being reunited and settied close to the roads, their roads which they had opened. 

As for Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, it was not known where they 
were. But when they saw the tribes that passed on the roads, instantly they began to shout on the 
mountain-tops, howling like a coyote, screaming like a mountain cat, and imitating the roaring of 
the puma and the jaguar. 

And the tribes seeing these things, as they walked, said: "Their screams are like those of the 
coyote, of the mountain cat, of the puma, and of the jaguar. They want to appear to the tribes as 
though they are not men, and they only do this to deceive us, we the people. Their hearts wish 
something. Surely, they do not frighten us with what they do. They mean something with the 
roaring of the puma, with the noise of the jaguar which they break into when they see one or two 
men walking; what they want is to make an end of us." 

Every day they [the priests] came to their houses and to their women, carrying only the young of 
the bumblebees and the wasps, and the honeybees to give to their women. 

Every day, too, they came before Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz and said in their hearts: "Here are 
Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. We can offer them only the blood of the deer and the birds; we take 
only blood from our ears and our arms. Let us ask Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz for strength and 
vigor. What will [the tribes] say about the deaths of the people, which, one by one, we are 
killing?" they said to one another as they went into the presence of Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. 

Then they punctured their ears and their arms before the divinities they caught their blood and put 
it in a vase near the stones. 1 They were not really stones, but each one appeared in the likeness of 
a youth. 

They were happy with the blood of the priests and sacrificers when they arrived with this example 
of their work. 

"Follow their tracks [those of the animals which they sacrificed], there is your salvation! 

"From there, from Tulan, whence you brought us," they were told, "came the skin, called 
Pazilizib, which was given to you, smeared with blood: spill your blood and let this be the 
offering of Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz." 2 


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139:1 X-qui hie u coc pu chi abah. U coc is the gourd or squash, the xicalli in which the Mexicans 
received the blood of their victims. Pu chi abah, near the stone, or in the mouth of the stone, that 
is to say, in the stone statues of their gods. 

139:2 Despite its incoherency and its obscure meaning, this chapter seems to be the prologue to 
the destruction of the tribes of Vuc Amag, enemies of the Quiche, whom the priests decided to 
sacrifice in the way they had learned in the north, as will be seen in the chapters which follow. 

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IV. Chapter 2 

rlere is how Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah. and Iqui-Balam began the abduction of 
the men of the tribes [of Vuc Amag]. 

Then came the killing of the tribes. They seized a man as he walked alone, or two when they were 
walking together, and it was not known when they were seized, and then they went to sacrifice 
them before Tohil. and Avilix. Afterward they sprinkled the blood on the road and placed the 
heads separately on the road. And the tribes said, "The jaguar ate them." And they spoke thus 
because like footprints of the jaguar were the tracks which they had left, although they did not 
show themselves. 

Already, many were the men who had been carried off, but the tribes did not notice it until later. 
"Could it be Tohil. and Avilix who have been here among us? It must be they who are nourished 
by the priests and the sacrificers. Where are their homes? Let us follow their footprints!" said all 
the people. 

Then they held a council among themselves. Then they began to follow the footprints of the 
priests and the sacrificers, but they were not clear. There were only tracks of wild animals, tracks 
of jaguars that they saw, but the tracks were not distinct. The first ones were not clear because 
they were reversed, as though made so that the people went astray, and their way was not clear. A 
mist formed, a black rain fell and made much mud; and it began to drizzle. This was what the 
people saw before them. And their hearts became weary of searching and following them on the 
roads, because the beings of Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz were so great that the latter withdrew to 
the summit of the mountains, in the vicinity of the people, whom they killed. 

Thus began the abduction of the people when the sorcerers caught the tribes in the roads and 
sacrificed them before Tohil. Avilix, and Hacavitz; but their [own] sons they saved there on the 

Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz had the appearance of three youths and walked by virtue of the magic 
stone. There was a river in which they bathed, at the edge of the water and only there did they 
appear. For this reason it was called "in the Bathing Place of Tohil," and this was the name of the 
river. 1 Often the tribes saw them, but they disappeared immediately, when they were seen by the 

Then they had tidings of where Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah. and Iqui-Balam were, 
and at once the tribes held council as to the way in which they could be killed. 

In the first place the tribes wanted to discuss the way to overcome Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. 
And all the priests and sacrificers [of the tribes] said to the people: "Arise, all of you, call 
everyone, let there be not one group, nor two groups, among us who remain behind the others." 

Page 151 of 196 

All assembled, they assembled in great numbers and deliberated among themselves. And they 
said, asking each other: "What shall we do to overcome the Quiche of Cavec, 2 by whose hands 
our sons and vassals are being killed? it is not known how our people are being destroyed. If we 
must perish, because of these abductions, so let it be; and if the power of Tohil, Avilix, and 
Hacavitz is so great then let our god be this Tohil, and God grant that you take him captive. It is 
not possible that they shall overcome us. Are there not, perchance, enough men among us? And 
the Cavec are not many," they said, when all were assembled. 

And some said, turning to the tribes, when they spoke: "Who has seen those who bathe in the 
river every day? If they are Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz, then we shall overcome them first, and 
afterward, we shall begin the destruction of the priests and sacrificers." This, many of them said, 
when they talked. 

"But how shall we overcome them?" they asked again. 

"This shall be our way of overcoming them. Since they have the appearance of youths when they 
let themselves be seen in the water, then let two maidens who are really beautiful, and very 
lovely, go and provoke in them desire to possess them," they said. 

"Very well. Let us go, then; let us find two beautiful maidens," they exclaimed, and then they 
went to find their daughters. And truly beautiful were the maidens. 

Then they instructed the maidens: "Go, our daughters, go to wash clothes at the river, and if you 
see the three youths, undress before them, and if their hearts desire you, call to them. If they say 
to you, 'May we come to you?' answer, 'Yes.' And when they ask: 'Where do you come from, 
whose daughters are you?' tell them, 'We are daughters of the lords.' 3 

"Then you shall say: 'Give us a token of yours.' And if after they have given you something, they 
want to kiss your faces, really give yourselves to them. And if you do not give yourselves to them, 
we shall kill you. Afterward our hearts shall be satisfied. When you have the token, bring it here, 
and this shall be proof, in our judgment, that they were joined with you." 

Thus spoke the lords when they advised the two maidens. Here are their names: Xtah was the 
name of one of the maidens, and the other was Xpuch. 4 And the two maidens, Xtah and Xpuch, 
were sent to the river, to the bathing place of Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz. This is what was 
decided by all the tribes. 

They went at once, well adorned, and they were truly very beautiful when they went there where 
Tohil 5 was bathing, so that they would be seen, when they were washing. When they went, the 
lords were happy because they had sent their two daughters. 

As soon as the latter arrived at the river, they began to wash. The two had already taken off their 
clothes and were bending over the stones when Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz came. They came 
there to the edge of the river and paused a moment, surprised to see the two young girls who were 
washing, and the girls became ashamed at the moment when Tohil came. But the two girls did not 

Page 152 of 196 

appeal to Tohil. And then he asked them: "Where did you come from?" Thus he asked the two 
maidens, and added: "What do you want that you come here to the edge of our water?" 

And they answered: "The lords have sent us to come here. 'Go look at the faces of Tohil and 
speak with them,' the lords told us; and 'then bring proof that you have seen their faces.' they told 
us." Thus the two girls spoke, making known the purpose of their coming. 

Well, what the tribes wanted was that the two maidens would be violated by the incarnation of 
Tohil. g But Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz said, speaking again to Xtah and Xpuch, as the two 
maidens were called: "Very well, with you shall go proof of our conversation. Wait a little and 
then you shall give it to the lords." they said. 

Then they held council with the priests and sacrificers and they said to Balam-Quitze, Balam- 
Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam: 7 "Paint three capes, paint on them the symbol of your being 
in order that it may be recognized by the tribes, when the maidens who are washing carry them 
back. Give the capes to them," Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah were told. 

At once the three began to paint. First, Balam-Quitze painted a jaguar; the figure was made and 
painted on the surface of the cape. Then Balam-Acab painted the figure of an eagle on the surface 
of a cape; and then Mahucutah painted bumblebees and wasps all over, figures and drawings of 
which he painted on the cloth. And the three finished their painting, three pieces they painted. 

Then they went to give the capes to Xtah and Xpuch, as they were called, and Balam-Quitze. 
Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah said to them: "Here is proof of your conversation [with us]; take 
these before the lords: Say to them, 'In truth, Tohil has talked to us; here we bring the proof,' tell 
them, and have them dress themselves in the clothes which you will give them." This they told the 
maidens when they bade them farewell. The latter went at once, carrying the above-mentioned 
painted capes, g 

When they arrived, the lords were filled with joy to see their faces and their hands, from which 
hung the things the maidens had gone for. 

"Did you see the face of Tohil?" they asked them. 

"Yes, we saw it," answered Xtah and Xpuch. 

"Very well. And you bring the token, do you not?" the lords asked, thinking that this was the 
proof of their sin. 

Then the maidens held out the painted capes, all covered with [the figures] of jaguars and eagles, 
and covered with bumblebees and wasps, painted on the surface of the cloth and which shone 
before them. At once they felt a desire to put the capes on. 

The jaguar did nothing when the lord threw the first painting on his back. Then the lord put on the 
second painting, with the figure of the eagle. The lord felt very well wrapped within it. And he 
turned about before all of them. 

Page 153 of 196 

Then he undressed before all, and put on the third painted cape. And now he had on himself, the 
bumblebees and wasps which were on it. Instantly the bumblebees and the wasps stung his flesh. 
And not being able to suffer the stings of these insects, he began to scream because of the insects 
whose figures were painted on the cloth, the painting of Mahucutah, which was the third one that 
had been painted. 

Thus they were overcome. Then the lords reprimanded the two maidens named Xtah and Xpuch: 
"What kind of clothes are those which you have brought? Where did you go to bring them, you 
devils?" they said to the maidens when they reprimanded them. All the people were overcome by 

Well, what they [the lords] wanted was that Tohil should have gone to amuse himself with Xtah 
and Xpuch, and that the [maidens] would have become whores, for the tribes believed that they 
would serve to tempt them. But it was not possible that they should overcome them, thanks to 
those miraculous men, Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam. 


147:1 Chi r'atinibal Tohil. Brasseur de Bourbourg locates the river of this name thirteen to fifteen 
miles to the southeast of Cubulco, on the road to Joyabaj, on the summit of the mountain which 
separates both towns. 

147:2 The family of Cavec was the most important and numerous in the Quiche kingdom. 

147:3 The chiefs of the tribes of Vucamag, who were enemies of the Quiche and fathers of the 
maidens, were called Rotzhaib, Uxab, Qibaha, and Quebat-Zunuha, according to the Titulo de los 
Senores de Totonicapan. 

147:4 Are qui bi va Xtah u bi hun gapoh, Xpuch chicut u bi hunchic, in the original. Xtdn is "girl" 
in Cakchiquel. Ichpoch also means "girl" in Nahuatl, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg. The 
Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapan adds a third maiden called Quibatzunah ("well arranged," or 
"polished"). It is more logical to believe that the mission sent out by the tribes was composed of 
three sirens, since the gods whom they were trying to seduce were three in number. Another 
version of the legend in the Titulo de Totonicapan is that Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, and 
Mahucutah, and not the gods of the Cavec, were the youths whom they tried to tempt. 

147:5 Here Tohil again becomes a collective noun. 

147:6 According to the Quiche belief, these youths who appeared in the Bath of Tohil were the 
reincarnation of the gods in human form, their bodily representatives, their alter egos. The nagual 
was the person or animal into which the Indians could be transformed at will. 

147:7 The name of Iqui-Balam appears here with that of the other Quiche chiefs, but later the 
manuscript says that there were only the other three who painted the capes. 

Page 154 of 196 

147:8 Ta x-e be cut x-cu caah u bi ri tziban cul, in the original. 

Page 155 of 196 

IV. Chapter 3 

rYfterwards the tribes held council again. 

"What shall we do with them? in truth, their estate is very great," they said when they assembled 
again in council. 

"Well, then, we shall waylay them, we shall kill them, we shall arm ourselves with bows and with 
shields. Perchance, are we not many? Let there not be one or two among us who remains behind." 
This they said when they held council. And all the people armed. Many were the warriors when 
all the people gathered together for the killing. 

Meanwhile, there were Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, they were on 
the mountain Hacavitz, on the hill of this name. They were there in order to save their sons who 
were on the mountain. 

And they did not have many people, they did not have multitudes such as the multitudes of the 
tribes. The summit of the mountain where they had their place was small, and for that reason 
when the tribes assembled together and rose, they decided to kill all of them. 

In this manner, then, took place the reunion of all the people, all armed with their bows and their 
shields. It is impossible to describe the richness of their arms; the appearance of all the chiefs and 
men was very beautiful, and certainly all obeyed their orders. 

"They shall positively be destroyed, and as for Tohil. he shall be our god, we shall worship him, if 
we take him prisoner," they said to each other. But Tohil knew everything and so did Balam- 
Quitze, Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah. They heard all the plans, because they did not sleep, or rest, 
from the time the warriors armed themselves. 

Then all the warriors rose up and started out on the road, intending to enter [the town] by night. 
But they did not arrive, for all the warriors were watching on the road, and then they were 
destroyed by Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah. 

All remained watching along the road, but they heard nothing and they finally fell asleep. Then 
they [Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah] began to pull out their eyelashes and their 
beards; they took off the metal ornaments from their throats—their crowns and necklaces. And 
they took the metal from the handles of their spears. They did this to punish them and humiliate 
them, and give them an example of the power of the Quiche people. 

When they [the warriors] awoke, they wanted to take their crowns and their staffs, but they no 
longer had metal in the staff-handles, nor their crowns. "Who has stripped us? Who has torn out 
our beards? Whence have they come to rob us of our precious metals?" said all of the warriors. 
"Can it be these devils who are carrying off the men? But they shall not succeed in frightening us. 

Page 156 of 196 

We shall enter their town by force, and we shall again see the face of our silver; this we shall do," 
said all the tribes, and all truly intended to carry out their word. 

Meanwhile the hearts of the priests and the sacrificers on the summit of the mountain were calm. 
And Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam 1 having talked together, they built 
a wall at the edge of the town and enclosed it with boards and thorns. Then they made figures in 
the form of men, and put them in rows on the wall, armed them with shields and arrows and 
adorned them, putting metal crowns on their heads. These they put on the simple wooden figures, 
they adorned them with the metal which they had taken from the tribes on the road and with them 
they decorated the figures. 

They made a moat around the town, and then they asked advice of Tohil: "Shall they kill us? 
Shall they overcome us?" their hearts said to Tohil. 

"Do not be troubled! I am here. And this you will use. Do not be afraid," he [Tohil] said to 
Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, when they were given the bumblebees 
and the wasps. This is what they went to fetch. And when they came, they put them inside four 
big gourds which were placed around the town. They shut the bumblebees and wasps inside the 
gourds, in order to fight the people with them. 

The city was watched from afar, spied upon and observed by the scouts of the tribes. "They are 
not many," they said. But they saw only the wooden figures which lightly moved their bows and 
their shields. In truth, they had the appearance of men, had in truth the appearance of warriors 
when the tribes looked at them, and all the tribes were happy because they saw that they were not 

There were many tribes; it was not possible to count the people, the warriors and soldiers who 
were going to kill Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah, who were on the mountain 
Hacavitz, the name of the place where they were found. 

Now we shall tell about their arrival. 


150:1 Ta x-e naohin cut Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, Iqui-Balam, in the original. 

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IV. Chapter 4 


were there, then, Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, were all 
together on the mountain with their wives and their children when all the warriors and soldiers 
came. The tribes did not number sixteen thousand, or twenty-four thousand men, 1 [but even 

They surrounded the town, crying out loudly, armed with arrows and shields, beating drums, 
giving war whoops, whistling, shouting, inciting them to fight, when they arrived in front of the 

But the priests and sacrificers were not frightened; they only looked at them from the edge of the 
wall, where they were in good order with their wives and children. They thought only of the 
strength and the shouting of the tribes when they came up the side of the mountain. 

Shortly before they were about to throw themselves at the entrance of the town, the four gourds 
which were at the edge of the town were opened and the bumblebees and the wasps came out of 
the gourds; like a great cloud of smoke they emerged from the gourds. And thus the warriors 
perished because of the insects which stung the pupils of their eyes 2 and fastened themselves to 
their noses, their mouths, their legs, and their arms. "Where are they," they said, "those who went 
to get and bring in all the bumblebees and wasps that are here?" 

They went straight to sting the pupils of their eyes, the little insects buzzing in swarms over each 
one of the men; and the latter, stunned by the bumblebees and wasps, could no longer grasp their 
bows and their shields, which were broken on the ground. 

When the warriors fell, they were stretched out on the mountainside, and they no longer felt when 
they were hit with arrows, and wounded by the axes. Balam-Quitze and Balam-Acab used only 
blunt sticks. Their wives also took part in this killing. Only a part [of them] returned and all the 
tribes began to flee. But the first ones caught were put to death; not a few of the men died, and 
those who died were not the ones they intended to kill but those who were attacked by the insects. 
Neither was it a deed of valor, because the warriors were not killed by arrows or by shields. 

Then all the tribes surrendered. The people humbled themselves before Balam-Quitze, Balam- 
Acab, and Mahucutah. "Have pity on us, do not kill us," they exclaimed. 

"Very well. Although you deserve to die, you shall [instead] become [our] vassals for the rest of 
your lives," 3 they said to them. 

In this way were all of the tribes destroyed by our first mothers and fathers; and this happened 
there on the mountain Hacavitz, as it is now called. This was where they first settled, where they 
multiplied and increased, begot their daughters, gave being to their sons, on the mountain 

Page 158 of 196 

They were, then, very happy when they had overcome all the tribes, whom they destroyed there 
on the mountaintop. In this way they carried out the destruction of the tribes, of all the tribes. 
After this their hearts rested. And they said to their sons that when they [the tribes] intended to 
kill them, the hour of their own death was approaching. 

And now we shall tell of the death of Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, as 
they were called. 


153:1 Mavi xa ca chuy, ox chuq ri amac. Chuy, chuguy, literally the bag or sack in which the 
cacao was stored and which contained eight thousand beans, equivalent to the xiquipil of Mexico. 
The same word is used here also to count the troops. The text gives one to understand that the 
army of the tribes contained more than 24,000 men. In the Memorial Cakchiquel de Solold one 
finds the same form of enumeration: Maqui xa hu chuvy, ca chuvy x-pe, x-ul ca chi amag; 
"neither eight thousand nor sixteen thousand came, all the people came." 

153:2 Tacatoh chu bac qui vach, in the original. 

153:3 The Quiche expression is very picturesque: chi be quih, chi be zac, "so long as the sun 
walks, so long as there is light." 

Page 159 of 196 

IV. Chapter 5 

rVnd as they had had a presentiment of their death, they counseled their children. They were not 
ill, they had neither pain nor agony when they gave their advice to their children. 

These are the names of their sons: Balam-Quitze had two sons, Qocaib the first was called, and 
Qocavib was the name of the second son of Balam-Quitze, the grandfather and father of those of 

And these are the two sons which Balam-Acab begot, here are their names: Qoacul the first of his 
sons was called, and Qoacutec was the name of the second son of Balam-Acab [the founder] of 
those of Nihaib. 1 

Mahucutah had but one son, who was called Qoahau. 

Those three had sons, but Iqui-Balam did not have children. They were really the sacrificers, and 
these are the names of their sons. 

So, then, they bade [their sons] farewell. The four were together and they began to sing, feeling 
sad in their hearts; and their hearts wept when they sang the camucu, as the song is called which 
they sang when they bade farewell to their sons. 

"Oh, our sons! we are going, we are going away; sane advice and wise counsel we leave you. And 
you, also, who came from our distant country, oh our wives! they said to their women, and they 
bade farewell to each one. "We are going back to our town; already in his place is Our Lord of the 
stags, 2 to be seen there in the sky. We are going to begin our return, we have completed our 
mission [here], our days are ended. Think, then, of us, do not erase us [from your memory], nor 
forget us. You shall see your homes and your mountains again; settle, there, and so let it be! Go 
on your way and you shall see again the place from which we came." 

These words they said when they bade them farewell. Then Balam-Quitze left the symbol of his 
being: "This is a remembrance which I leave you. This shall be your power. I take my leave filled 
with sorrow," he added. Then he left the symbol of his being, the Pizom-Gagal, 3 as it was called, 
whose form was invisible because it was wrapped up and could not be unwrapped; the seam did 
not show because it was not seen when they wrapped it up. 

In this way they took their leave and immediately they disappeared there on the summit of the 
mountain Hacavitz. 

They [the four lords] were not buried by their wives nor by their children, because they were not 
seen when they disappeared. Only their leaving was seen dearly, and therefore the bundle was 
very dear to them, it was the reminder of their fathers and at once they burned incense before this 
reminder of their fathers. 

Page 160 of 196 

And then the lords, who succeeded Balam-Quitze, begot new generations of men, and this was the 
beginning of the grandfathers and fathers of those of Cavec; but their sons, those called Qocaib 
and Qocavib, did not disappear. 

In this way the four died, our first grandfathers and fathers; in this way they disappeared, leaving 
their children on the mountain Hacavitz, there where they have remained. 

And the people being subdued already, and their grandeur ended, the tribes no longer had power, 
and all lived to serve daily. 

They remembered their fathers; great was the glory of the bundle to them. Never did they unwrap 
it, but it was always wrapped, and with them. Bundle of Greatness they called it when they 
extolled and named that which their fathers had left in their care as a symbol of their being. 

In this manner, then, came about the disappearance and end of Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, 
Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, the first men who came there from the other side of the sea, where 
the sun rises. They had been here a long time when they died, being very old, the chiefs and 
sacrificers, as they were called. 


156:1 The text calls these two branches of the Quiche family Caviquib and Nihaibab, which are 
the plurals of Cavec and Nihaib. The third family, that of Ahau Quiche, descended from 

156:2 C'Ahaual Queh. Among the Maya, as well as among the Quiche, the Lord, or owner, of the 
Stags is a symbol of disappearance and of farewell. In Yucatan, Lord Deer is called Yumilceh. He 
was the guiding spirit of the Maya when they arrived in Xocne-Ceh, according to the Book of 
Chilan Balam of Chumayel. 

156:3 The bundle, symbol of power and majesty, the mysterious package which the servants of 
the temple guarded as a symbol of authority and sovereignty. The Titulo de los Senores de 
Totonicapdn gives some information about this Bundle of Majesty. This document says that when 
the Quiche left Tulan-Civan, under the command of Balam-Quitze, "the great father Nacxit gave 
them a gift called Giron-Gagal." Giron, or quiron, is derived from quira, "unfasten," "unroll," "to 
preserve" a thing. Farther on the same document says that it was in Hacavitz-Chipal where, for 
the first time, they unwrapped the gift which old Nacxit gave them when they came from the East, 
and that "this gift was what they feared and respected." The gift was a stone, "the stone of Nacxit, 
which they used in their incantations." Possibly it was the same stone of slate or obsidian which 
they called ChayAbah, and which is also mentioned in the Memorial de Solold, as the symbol of 
the Divinity, which the Cakchiquel have worshiped from ancient times. Torquemada (Monarquia 
Indiana, Part 2, Book VI, Chap. XLII) says that the Mexican Indians used a bundle, called 
Haquimilolli, made of the mantles of the dead gods, in which they wrapped some sticks with 
green stones and the skins of snakes and jaguars, and that this bundle they venerated as their 

Page 161 of 196 

principal god. The Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapdn says that upon taking leave of their 
children, Balam-Quitze pronounced these words: "Keep the precious gift which our father Nacxit 
gave us; it will be useful to us, because we have not yet found the place in which we are going to 
settle. Beget sons worthy of the title of Ahpop, Ahpop Camha, Galel, Ahtzivinak; make sons 
filled with the fire and majesty which our father Nacxit gave us." 

Page 162 of 196 

IV. Chapter 6 

1 hen they decided to go to the east, thinking thus to fulfill the command of their fathers which 
they had not forgotten. It had been a long time since their fathers had died, when the tribes gave 
them their wives, and thus they acquired many relatives-in-law, when the three took wives. 1 

And starting on their journey, they said: "We are going to the East, there whence came our 
fathers." So they said when the three sons set out. One was called Qocaib, and he was the son of 
Balam-Quitze, of the Cavec. The one called Qoacutec was son of Balam-Acab, of the Nihaib; and 
the other called Qoahau, was son of Mahucutah, of the Ahau-Quiche. 2 

These, then, are the names of those who went there to the other side of the sea; the three went 
then, and were endowed with intelligence and experience, but they were not common men. They 
took leave of all their brothers and relatives and left joyfully. "We shall not die; we shall return," 
said the three when they left. 

Certainly they crossed the sea when they came there to the East, when they went to receive the 
investiture of the kingdom. And this was the name of the Lord, King of the East, where they went. 
When they arrived before Lord Nacxit, 3 which was the name of the great lord, the only supreme 
judge of all the kingdoms, he gave them the insignia of the kingdom and all its distinctive 
symbols. Then came the insignia of Ahpop and Ahpop-Camha, and then the insignia of the 
grandeur and the sovereignty of the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha. a And Nacxit ended by giving 
them the insignia of royalty, which are: the canopy, the throne, the flutes of bone, the cham-cham, 
yellow beads, puma claws, jaguar claws, the heads and feet of the deer, dais, snail shells, tobacco, 
little gourds, parrot feathers, standards of royal aigrette feathers, tatam, and caxcon. 5 All the 
foregoing they carried, those who came after going to the other side of the sea to receive the 
paintings of Tulan, the paintings, as these were called, in which they wrote their histories. § 

Then, having arrived at their town called Hacavitz, all the people of Tamub and of Ilocab 
assembled there; all the tribes were assembled and were filled with joy when Qocaib, Qoacutec, 
and Qoahau arrived, and there they again assumed the rule of the tribes. 7 

The people of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, and the people of Tziquinaha rejoiced. Before them they 
showed the insignia of the grandeur of the kingdom. Great, too, were the tribes, although they had 
not finished showing their might. And they were there in Hacavitz, all were there with those who 
came from the East. There they spent much time; 8 there on the summit of the mountain they were 
in great numbers. 

There, too, the wives of Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah died. 

Later they left, abandoning their country, and searching for other places in which to settle, 
innumerable were the places in which they settled, where they were, and which they named. 
There our first mothers and our first fathers were reunited and increased. So said the old people 

Page 163 of 196 

when they told how they left their first capital, called Hacavitz, and went to found another capital, 
called Chi-Quix. 9 

They were a long time in this other town, where they had daughters and sons. There were many of 
them there, and there were four other places, to each of which they gave the name of their town. 
Their daughters and sons married; they simply gave them away [in marriage] and the presents and 
favors they received they considered as the price for their daughters, and, in this way, they lived 
happily. 10 

Afterward they went through each one of the wards of the town, the different names of which are: 
Chi-Quix, Chichac, Humetaha, Culba, and Cavinal. These were the names of the places where 
they settled. And they surveyed the hills and their towns and sought the uninhabited places, for, 
all together, they were now very many. 

Those who had gone to the East to receive the sovereignty were now dead. They were already old 
when they arrived at each of the towns. They did not become accustomed to the different places 
through which they passed; they suffered many hardships and troubles and only after a long time 
did the grandfathers and fathers arrive at their town. Here is the name of the city to which they 

Finally Qocaib returned and gave an account of his mission. "He brought the titles of Ahpop, 
Ahtzalam, Tzanchinamital, and many others; he showed the insignia which must accompany 
these titles, and they were the claws of the jaguars and eagles, skins of other animals, and also 
stones, sticks, etc." Seeing his wife with a newly born child in her arms, he asked whence it had 
come. "Tt is of thy blood,' answered the woman, 'of thy flesh and thy same bones.'" Qocaib 
accepted the explanation, and taking the child's cradle said: '"From today on, and forever this 
child shall be called Balam Conache.' And the latter began the House of Conache and Iztayul." 
With respect to the second journey of the Quiche princes, the Titulo says that they returned 
satisfied to Hacavitz Chipal, and displayed the signs and symbols which they brought.} 


159:1 X qui hiah, literally, "they had fathers-in-law and brothers-in-law." 

159:2 This was the second journey to the East which Diego Reynoso, author of Chapter IV of the 
Titulo de los Sehores de Totonicapdn, describes. According to this Indian writer, there were four 
princes who took part in the expedition; the two brothers Qocaib and Qocavib, Qoacul and 
Acutec, and a fifth was added afterward who had the title of Nim Chocoh Cavec, who later 
received the title of Chocohil-Tem. 

159:3 Nacxit is the abbreviated name which the Quiche and the Cakchiquel gave, in their tales, to 
the King of the Orient, who was no other than Topiltzin Acxitl Quetzalcoatl, the famous Toltec 
king who, having been obliged to abandon his dominions in the north, emigrated at the end of the 
tenth century to the lands of Yucatan (the Orient of the ancient chronicles), and there repopulated 

Page 164 of 196 

Chichen Itza and founded the city of Mayapan, civilized the peninsula, and, upon finishing his 
mission, returned to the place whence he had come. The fabulous Tlapallan, the place to which, it 
is said, the great monarch migrated, was the country which extended from Xicalanco toward the 
east, that is, the coastal region of the modern Mexican states of Tabasco, Campeche, and Yucatan. 

The Chronicles, or Books ofChilan Balam, of Yucatan speak of the prophecy of the return of 
Kukulcan-Quetzalcoatl who, in those documents, is called Nacxit-Xuchit. 

159:4 Ahpop is the Maya word which has passed without variation to the languages of the interior 
of Guatemala; its literal meaning is "the mat." The mat, pop, was the symbol of royalty, and the 
chief or lord is represented as seated upon it on the most ancient monuments of the Maya Old 
Empire which had its origin in the Peten, Guatemala. The Ahpop was the Quiche king and chief 
of the House of Cavec; the Ahpop Camha, also of the House of Cavec, was the second reigning 
prince; the Ahau Galel was the chief or king of the House of Nihaib, and the Ahtzic Vinac Ahau 
the chief of the House of Ahau Quiche. Another group of Quiche nobles also bore the same title 
as the two first, and in this place the text refers to them as Ah-popol, Ahpop-camhail, which are 
the plural forms. 

159:5 It is extremely difficult to interpret the names of the gifts of Nacxit because they belong to 
the archaic Quiche and Maya tongues. I believe, however, that I have made some progress in 
identifying these ancient objects, decreasing in number the unknown names which the venerable 
first translator of the Popol Vuh left unexplained. 

"Canopy" corresponds to the Quiche muh, which is also the word for the royal mantle. 

"Throne," galibal, a high seat where the king or principal lord was seated. 

"Flutes of bone" is the literal translation of zubac. 

Cham-cham, another flute, says Ximenez; drums, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg, Seler, and 
Raynaud; and in this case it brings to mind the African tom-tom. 

Yellow beads, titil canabah. The Diccionario Cakchiquel interprets canabah as the yellow paint 
with which the Indians painted their bodies. According to Ximenez, the expression of the text is 
equivalent to chalchihuites, or beads of stone, usually green or yellow serpentine. In Maya the 
selected beads, jewels, or stones which were used in divination and as ornaments are called tedl 
kan, "fruit pits or stones which the Indians used as money and for necklaces," according to the 
Diccionario de Motul. 

Puma claws, jaguar claws, tzicvuil coh, tzicvuil balam, through analogy with the text of the Titulo 
de los Senores de Totonicapdn which mentions "nails of the puma and the eagle, pelts of other 
animals, and also stones, sticks, etc." Seler gives the same interpretation here. 

Holom, pich queh, literally translated, are the heads and feet of the deer. 

Page 165 of 196 

Canopies, macutax. In Cakchiquel, macamic is a tent or pavilion; macom, mat, like a canopy; 
macubal, canopy. (Diccionario Cakchiquel). The Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapdn 
enumerates the canopies or pavilions assigned to the lords. The Ahpop had the right to use four 
canopies over his head; the Ahpop Camha, three; etc. The newly created honors, according to the 
same document, were those of Galel-Tem, Atzivinaquil-Tem, Nim-Chocohil-Tem, Gale-Yamhail- 
Tem, Nima-Yamolah-Tem, four Ah-Tohil, three Chocobib, three Utzam-Pop, three Yacolha, and 

Snail shell, tot, sea-shells. 

Tobacco, quz; little gourds, buz, by resemblance with the Maya words of Yucatan, the country 
where Nacxit lived. In Maya, tobacco is cuz and kutz. Buz may be the Maya bux, little gourds for 
keeping ground tobacco, according to the Diccionario de Motul. The Maya used tobacco in their 
incantations and sorcery. In Maya, kutz is also the magnificent wild turkey, Meleagris ocellata, 
which may very well be another gift worthy of princes. It is interesting to recall here that, 
according to the Cronica Mexicana by Fernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc, the Aztec upon giving 
the royal investiture to Moctezuma, fastened around his neck a tecomatillo (small gourd) in which 
to keep piciete [tobacco] "which is strength for the roads." 

Parrot feathers, chiyom. This word is found in the Vocabulario Kakchiquel by Father Francisco 
Barela. With the green feathers of the common parrot of the Peninsula of Yucatan, ornaments 
were made for the finery of the princes and warriors; but here is meant the bright red and blue 
feathers of the macaw, also used for the same purpose. 

Royal heron, aztapulul. This word is taken from the Aztec aztapololli, a derivative of aztatl, large 
white herons, very white like snow, says Sahagun, who adds that the feather workers made 
"standards with feathers of the royal heron." 

I have been unable to interpret the words tatam and caxcon. 

159:6 U tzibal Tuldn. The paintings which the Tolteca had brought from faraway Tula and in 
which they preserved the stories of ancient times. Although the paintings of the Quiche have not 
been preserved, there is a reliable proof of their former existence furnished by the Oidor Zorita, 
whom I have mentioned various times; he says that In Utatlan he found out "through the paintings 
which they had of their antiquities of more than eight hundred years, and by very old people, that 
there used to be among them, In the time of their paganism, three lords, and that the principal one 
had three canopies or mantles of very rich feathers on his seat, the second had two, and the third, 
one." Those paintings "of more than eight hundred years" in 1550 could well have been the 
paintings brought from Tulan. 

159:7 The Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapdn speaks of two journeys which the Quiche princes 
made to the East. Chapter III of that manuscript says that the same Balam-Quitze said to his 
companions: "it is time now to send ambassadors to our father and Lord Nacxit; that he may 
know the state of our affairs, that he give us means so that in the future our enemies shall never 
overcome us, so that never shall our noble birth be made light of; that he designate honors for us 
and for all our descendants, and, that, finally, he send public offices for those who deserve them." 

Page 166 of 196 

With this aim, the chiefs; elected Qocaib and Qocavib, both sons of Balam-Quitze, who received 
their instructions and set out. "Qocaib went in the direction of the East, and Qocavib in that of the 
West," says the manuscript, which must be interpreted as indicating that the first went by the east 
coast of Guatemala and Yucatan in order to go toward Chichen Itza, the metropolis of the 
northeastern part of the peninsula, which was the court of Quetzalcoatl, Acxitl, or Kukulcan; 
while the second probably followed the course of the Chixoy River, which flows close to 
Hacavitz, and the Usumacinta River, which carried him to the west coast of Yucatan. After a long 
journey of no less than a year, Qocaib arrived in the presence of the Emperor Nacxit Kukulcan 
and fulfilled his mission; but Qocavib, "encountering some obstacles on the shores of the Lake of 
Mexico [undoubtedly the Laguna de Terminos] returned without doing anything." However, on 
his return to his own people and "finding a weak soul he illicitly knew [carnally] his sister-in-law, 
the wife of Qocaib." 

159:8 Naht chicut x-qui ban, "There they lived many years," says the Titulo de los Senores de 
Totonicapdn, using, it would seem, the same Quiche words. The whereabouts of the original of 
the Titulo is not known. 

159:9 "In the thorns." The Titulo de Totonicapdn, which so effectively supplements the 
information given in the Popol Vuh, mentions the place of Chi-Quiche, where the tribes were 
before establishing themselves in Hacavitz, but it does not speak of Chi-Quix, despite the fact that 
it names some twenty places where the Quiche stopped after they had left Hacavitz. It seems, 
however, by the text which I translate, that Chi-Quix was only a suburb, or hill, which formed 
part of the general group of Chi-Quix, Chicac, Humetaha, Culba, and Cavinal, and these three last 
names are found also in the Titulo de Totonicapdn as Chi-Humet and Culba-Cavinal, "where they 
built houses and made huts," before continuing on to Izmachi. 

159:10 The Quiche married their daughters—says the Titulo de Totonicapdn- with certain 
ceremonies and water-jars of white batido (a drink made of corn meal to which cacao is 
sometimes added), and they had a basket of little avocados, a leg of wild pig, and little tamales 
wrapped and tied with vines. These were the gifts, and with them the marriage was agreed upon. 

Page 167 of 196 

IV. Chapter 7 

Ljhi-Izmachi 1 is the name of the site of their town, where they were afterward and where they 
settled. There, under the fourth generation of kings, they developed their power and constructed 
buildings of mortar and stone. 2 

And Conache and Beleheb-Queh, the Galel-Ahau, 3 ruled. Then king Cotuha and Iztayul reigned, 
as they were called the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha, who reigned there in Izmachi, which was 
the beautiful city which they had built. 4 

Only three great houses were there in Izmachi. There were not twenty-four great houses then, 
only their three great houses, only a great house of the Cavec, only a great house of the Nihaib, 
and only one of the people of Ahau-Quiche. Only two had great houses, 5 the two branches of the 
family [the Quiche and the Tamub]. 

And there they were in Izmachi with only one thought, without disputes or difficulties, peaceful 
was the kingdom, they had no quarrels nor disputes, in their hearts were only peace and 
happiness. They were not envious nor jealous. Their grandeur was limited, they had not thought 
of aggrandizing themselves, nor of expanding. When they tried to do it, they fastened the shield 
there in Izmachi but only to give a sign of their empire, as a symbol of their power and a symbol 
of their greatness. 

Seeing this, the people of Ilocab began the war; they wanted to kill King Cotuha, wishing to have 
a chief of their own. And as for Lord Iztayul, they wanted to punish him, that he be punished and 
killed by those of Ilocab. But their evil plans against King Cotuha did not succeed, for he fell 
upon them before the people of Ilocab were able to kill him. 

This, then, was the beginning of the revolution and the dissensions of the war. First they attacked 
the town, and the warriors came. And what they wanted was to ruin the Quiche race; they wanted 
to reign alone. But they only came to die; they were captured and fell into captivity, and few 
among them succeeded in escaping. 

Immediately afterward the sacrifices began; the people of Ilocab were sacrificed before the god, 
and this was the punishment for their sins by order of King Cotuha. Many also fell into slavery 
and servitude; they only went to give themselves up to be overcome because of having arranged 
the war against the lords and against the town. § The destruction and ruin of the Quiche race and 
their king was what they wished, but they did not succeed in accomplishing it. 

In this way the sacrifice of men began before the gods, when the war of the shields broke out, 
which was the reason that they began the fortifications of the city of Izmachi. 

There began and originated their power, because the empire of the King of the Quiche was really 
large. They were in every sense marvelous kings; there was no one who could dominate them, 

Page 168 of 196 

neither was there anyone who could humble them. And at the same time they were the builders of 
the grandeur of the kingdom which they had founded there in Izmachi. 

There the fear of god waxed, they were inspired with awe, and the tribes large and small were 
filled with fear, for they saw the arrival of the captives, those who were sacrificed and killed 
because of the power and sovereignty of King Cotuha, the King Iztayul, and the people of Nihaib 
and Ahau-Quiche. 

There were only three branches of the [Quiche] family there in Izmachi, as the town was called, 
and there they also began the feasts and orgies for their daughters when [suitors] came to ask for 
them 7 in marriage. 

There the so-called three great houses gathered, and there 

they drank their drinks, there they also ate their food, which was the price of their sisters, the price 
of their daughters, and their hearts were joyful when they did it, and they ate and drank 8 in the 
great houses. 

"In this way we show our gratitude, and thus we open the road for our posterity and our 
descendants, this is the demonstration of our consent to their becoming husbands and wives," they 

There they identified themselves, 9 and there they took their names; they distributed themselves in 
clans in the seven principal tribes and in cantons. 10 

"Let us unite, we of the Cavec, we of the Nihaib, and we of the Ahau-Quiche," said the three 
clans, and the three great houses. For a long time they were there in Izmachi, until they found and 
saw another town, and abandoned that of Izmachi. 


163:1 "in the beards." This city was situated to the south of Utatlan, the last capital of the Quiche. 

163:2 X-cah qui chun qui zahcab, literally, "they ground their lime and their chalk." Ximenez and 
Brasseur de Bourbourg interpret this sentence as meaning they built their houses of lime and 

163:3 Balam-Conache was the third king of the Quiche, according to the final chapter of the 
book, and according to the text, he ruled with Beleheb-Queh, king of the fourth generation of the 
House of Nihaib, and with Ahau-Galel, or the first of the lords of the House of Nihaib. Balam- 
Conache was the son of Qocavib, conceived by the wife of his brother, Qocaib, when the latter 
was absent on his first journey to the East, to Chichen Itza, according to the Titulo de los Sehores 
de Totonicapdn and to the document from Zapotitian about the origin of the Quiche kings, a 
translation of which is included in the Appendix to this book. Qocaib recognized the son of his 

Page 169 of 196 

brother and his own wife as being of his own blood, and this was the beginning, according to the 
Titulo, of the House of those of Conache and Iztayul, and herein the rank and office of Ahpop- 
Camhail, second title of the House of Iztayul, had its origin. 

163:4 Iztayul was the son of Balam-Conache. 

163:5 Xaqui caib chi nim ha ri ca chob chi chinamit. In transcribing this sentence Brasseur de 
Bourbourg substituted the word cumatzil, which he translates "serpents," for nim ha. In the 
margin of the manuscript of the Popol Vuh, one reads cumatzil pro nim ha, but Ximenez 
translates it as "large house." 

163:6 Chirih ahau, chirih civan-tinamit. "Against the Lords, against the city of the ravines." It 
was an ancient custom to name the Indian towns in this way, by the fact that they were built in 
places surrounded by ravines, in order to protect them against attacks by their enemies. 

163:7 Ta x-qui ziih uloc, literally, "when they carried their wood." This evidently refers to the 
native custom which obliged the suitor to carry a load of wood to his sweetheart's house when he 
went to ask her hand in marriage. 

163:8 X-e ocha, they drank from painted gourds, like those now made in Rabinal which are called 

163:9 Chila x-cob vi uloc, "there they distinguished themselves," that is, they were identified, one 
from another. 

163:10 Qui chinamit quib, vuc amag quib, qui ticpan quib. These are the names of the groups into 
which the Quiche were divided. Chinamit is the family or clan. Vuc-Amag, literally the seven 
principal tribes of which the Titulo de los Sehores de Totonicapdn frequently speaks. The word 
ticpan comes from the Nahuatl tecpdn and means suburb, or district of a large city. 

Page 170 of 196 

IV. Chapter 8 

rVfter they had left there, they came here to the town of Gumarcaah, 1 as the Quiche named it 
when Kings Cotuha and Gucumatz and all the lords came. There had then begun the fifth 
generation of men, since the beginning of civilization and of the population, the beginning of the 
existence of the nation. 

There, then, they built many houses and at the same time constructed the temple of God; in the 
center of the high part of the town they located it when they arrived and settled there. 

Then their empire grew. They were very numerous, 2 when they held their council in their great 
houses. They reunited, but later divided, because dissensions had arisen and jealousies grew up 
amongst them over the price for their sisters and their daughters, and because they no longer 
drank together. 3 

This, then, was the reason why they divided and why they turned against each other, and they 
threw the skulls of the dead, they hurled them around among each other. 

Then they divided into nine families, and having ended the dispute over the sisters and the 
daughters, they carried out the plan of dividing the kingdom into twenty-four great houses, as they 
did. It is a long time since they came here to their town, and finished the twenty-four great houses, 

in the City of Gumarcaah, which was blessed by the Bishop. Later the city was abandoned, a 

There they increased, there they installed their splendid thrones and royal seats, and they 
distributed their honors among all the lords. The nine lords of Cavec formed nine families; the 
lords of Nihaib formed another nine; the lords of Ahau-Quiche formed another four; and the lords 
of Zaquic formed another two families. 

They became very numerous, and many also followed each of the lords; these were the first 
among their vassals, and each of the lords had large families. 5 

We shall tell now the names of the lords of each of the great houses. Here, then, are the names of 
the lords of Cavec. The first of the lords was Ahpop, § [then] Ahpop-Camha, 7 Ah-Tohil, a Ah- 
Gucumatz, 9 Nim-Chocoh-Cavec, 10 Popol-Vinac-Chituy, 11 Lolmet-Quehnay, 12 Popol-Vinac Pa- 
Hom Tzalatz, 13 and Uchuch-Camha. 14 

These, then, were the lords of Cavec, nine lords, each one of which had his great house, which 
afterward will appear again. 

Here then are the lords of Nihaib. The first was Ahau-Galel, then Ahau-Ahtzic-Vinac, Galel- 
Camha, Nima-Camha, Uchuch-Camha, Nim-Chocoh-Nihaibab, Avilix, Yacolatam, Utzam-pop- 
Zalclatol, and Nima-Lolmet-Ycoltux, the nine lords of Nihaib. 15 

Page 171 of 196 

And as for those of Ahau-Quiche, these are the names of the lords: Ahtzic-Vinac, Ahau-Lolmet, 
Ahau-Nim-Chocoh-Ahau, and Ahau-Hacavitz, four lords of Ahau-Quiche, in the order of their 
great houses. 

And the house of Zaquic had two families, the Lords Tzutuha and Galel Zaquic. These two lords 
had only one great house, w 


164:1 The word Gumarcaah means "rotten huts," according to Ximenez; translating this name 
into their own tongue, the Mexicans called the city Utatldn, "place of reed fields." When the 
Spaniards arrived, it was the most important city in Central America. In his first letter to Cortes, 
Pedro de Alvarado, the conqueror of Guatemala, describes it in a few words saying: "This city is 
well built and marvelously strong." Bishop Las Casas, who arrived in Guatemala a few years after 
the Conquest, says in his Apologetica Historia that he saw "towns enclosed by very deep moats, 
as was the one called Guatemala [Iximche, capital of the Cakchiquel kingdom], and another 
which was indeed the head of the kingdom, called Utatian, with marvelous buildings of stone 
masonry of which I saw many." Another witness of that time, Dr. Alonso de Zorita, a 
contemporary of Las Casas, writes in his Historia de la Nueva Espaha: "Utatian, which is in the 
Province of Guatimala, was also considered by the natives of that land as a great sanctuary, and 
there were in it and around it many and very large temples which they call cues, of marvelous 
construction, and I saw some of them when I visited that land, being there Oidor in the royal 
Audiencia which has its residence in Guatimala, although they were in a state of ruin." 

A brief but graphic description remains from the French architect, Cesar Daly, who visited 
Utatian in 1857 and says of it that "it is one of the architectural curiosities of the world: three 
mounds which come from a kind of abyss or ravine and which are crowned by table-lands which 
support cities." Daly passed close to seven weeks in the central city and made plans and drawings 
of this metropolis, as well as of Iximche, the capital of the Cakchiquel. See "Notes pouvant servir 
a I'exploration des anciens monuments du Mexique," in Archives de la Commission Scientifique 
du Mexique (Paris, 1865), I, 146-61. 

D. Miguel Rivera Maestre made a reconnaissance of the site of Utatian and published a map and 
some pictures of the ruins of the Quiche capital in the Atlas of the state of Guatemala (1832). In 
the narrative of his trip to Central America John L. Stephens says that he used the report of Rivera 
Maestre in his description of that ancient city, which he visited in 1840. The great English 
archaeologist Alfred P. Maudslay visited the cities of Utatian and Iximche in January, 1887, and 
made surveys of the two sites. He describes the Quiche and Cakchiquel country and the Indian 
capitals in Volume II of Archaeology, of the Biologia Centrali-Americana, as well as in his 
magnificent book and that of his wife: A Glimpse at Guatemala (1899). 

The historians of the Colonial Period have also left more or less exact descriptions of the capital 
of the Quiche and of the temple of Tohil. The clearest of these is that of Ximenez (Las Historias 
del origen de los Indios de esta Provincia de Guatemala, 165-67) which, summarized, is as 

Page 172 of 196 

follows: The temple, or place of worship, and the rest of the buildings of Gumarcaah were 
constructed over a hill surrounded by a large ravine. On top of the plateau which the hill forms 
were the twenty-four large houses of the lords, built around so as to make small courts, each one 
like a large room raised about two yards from the ground, with a corridor and straw roof. In these 
little courts the large dances which they had during their feasts were held. In the middle of one of 
these small courts a solid tower was erected which went up in the form of a pyramid with square 
base, having stairs on each one of its faces, and in the comers was a bastion which also tapered 
upward. The steps were very narrow and close, so that it was frightening to climb them; there 
were about thirty or forty steps in each stair-way, and all were made of stone. 

Near the temple or tower, at one side, there was a thick wall one and one-half meters high by two 
meters wide, crowned with another, close to three meters in height and also two meters in width. 
This had many openings through which the ropes used to bind the victims, who were to be 
sacrificed, were passed, so that they faced toward the god. This tower dominated all the courts 
where the people assembled and all could see the image of Tohil. 

At the other side of the temple was the ball-court which Ximenez describes as a large pool with 
very large sides of stone, with their coronations or pyramids which surrounded it; they were very 
wide and could hold many people in them to watch the ball games which were the entertainment 
of the kings and the rest of the lords. All of this building, on the side opposite the houses, was 
closed by a wall made of stone which was called tzalam-coxtum, a name given to all those 
buildings because, in addition to serving as a place for ceremonies, they were also castles and 
forts for defense against their enemies, and for this reason they were built on the hilltops. 

Fuentes y Guzman (Historia de Guatemala, Book VIII, Chap. X) describes the palaces of Utatlan 
with a wealth of detail and imagination, but does not give a clearer idea of the temple or place of 
worship, with the exception of information relative to the existence of "the fourth step," of a 
smooth stone of two and three-quarter yards (2.50 meters) and five feet wide (more or less, 1.50 
meters), on which dismal and unhappy place they sacrificed the men, and "with a wide knife of 
chay [obsidian] they opened the breast [of the victim] and tore out the beating heart to offer it to 
the god." 

164:2 E qui chic e pu tzatz. 

164:3 Rumal xa mavi chi tzacon c'uquiya chi qui vach, in the original. They no longer gathered to 
eat and drink as they did in Izmachi when they arranged the weddings of their daughters and sons. 

164:4 Don Francisco Marroquin, the first Bishop of Guatemala, who arrived in the country in 
1530 and governed the diocese until his death in 1563. The historian Ximenez (Historia de . . . 
Chiapa y Guatemala, I, 115) fixes the time of the blessing of the new Spanish city which was 
substituted for the ancient capital, saying that the Bishop gave it the name of Santa Cruz of the 
Quiche "when, in the year 1539, he was in that Court, and blessing the place, fixed and raised the 
standard of the Faith." The site of Utatlan was abandoned when the city was moved to the plains 
near by, where it is today still located and serves as the capital of the department of the Quiche. 

164:5 Tzatz, tzatz. 

Page 173 of 196 

164:6 The king. 

164:7 The assistant to the monarch, the one designated to succeed him. 

164:8 The priest of Tohil. 

164:9 The priest of Gucumatz. 

164:10 The Great chosen one of Cavec. "They were three, the Great chosen," says Ximenez (La 
Historia del Origen . . . etc.), "like the fathers of all the Lords of the Quiche." There was a Great 
[one] chosen by each one of the principal clans. 

164:11 The counsellor Chituy, minister of the treasury. 

164:12 The agent, or accountant, and collector of tributes. 

164:13 The counsellor of the long ball-court. 

164:14 The majordomo, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg. 

164:15 In this enumeration, which agrees with the original manuscript, the ten names of the lords 
of the House of the Nihaib appear. Brasseur de Bourbourg reduces the number to nine, combining 
the names of Yacolatam-Utzam-pop-Zaclatol. 

164:16 These were the two large branches of the Zaquic-Cotuha, according to the Titulo de los 
Sehores de Totonicapdn. The honors and functions of the Court were divided among the lords of 
each family, according to its category. First was the Ahpop, or king, after whom in the legal order 
of succession, the Ahpop Camha followed. Writing about the middle of the sixteenth century, Las 
Casas (Apologetica Historia de las Indias, Chap. CCXXXIV, p. 616) says: "That supreme king 
had certain principal men of counsel, who had charge of justice and advised about what should be 
done in all business affairs. It is said today by the Indians who saw it, that they were like the 
Oidores which are in Guatimala in the Royal Audience. They saw the tributes which were 
collected from the kingdom and they divided and sent to the king what was assigned for the 
support of his person and estate." 

Page 174 of 196 

IV. Chapter 9 

In this way [the number] of the twenty-four lords was completed and the twenty-four great 
houses came into being. Thus the grandeur and power of the sons of the Quiche grew, when they 
built the town of the ravines out of stone and mortar. 1 

Then the small tribes and the great tribes came before the king. The Quiche increased when their 
glory and majesty waxed, when they raised the house of their gods and the house of their lords. 
But it was not they who worked, or constructed their houses either, or made the house of the gods, 
for they were [made] by their sons and vassals, who had multiplied. 

And they were not cheating them, nor robbing them, nor seizing them by force, because in reality 
each belonged to the lords, and many of their brothers and relatives 2 had come together and had 
assembled, to hear the commands of each of the lords. 

The lords were really loved and great was their glory; and the sons and the vassals held the 
birthdays of the lords in great respect 3 when the inhabitants of the country and the city 
multiplied, a 

But it did not happen that all the tribes delivered themselves up, and neither did the country and 
towns [the inhabitants of them] fall in battle, but instead they increased, because of the marvels of 
the lords, King Gucumatz and King Cotuha. Gucumatz was truly a marvelous king. For seven 
days he mounted to the skies and for seven days he went down into Xibalba; seven days he 
changed himself into a snake and really became a serpent; for seven days he changed himself into 
an eagle; for seven days he became a jaguar; and his appearance was really that of an eagle and a 
jaguar. Another seven days he changed himself into clotted blood and was only motionless blood. 

The nature of this king was really marvelous, and all the other lords were filled with terror before 
him. Tidings of the wonderful nature of the King were spread and all the lords of the towns heard 
it. And this was the beginning of the grandeur of the Quiche, when King Gucumatz gave these 
signs of his power. His sons and his grandsons never forgot him. And he did not do this in order 
to be an extraordinary king, he did it as a means of dominating all the towns, as a means of 
showing that only one was called upon to be chief of the people. 5 

The generation of the wonderful king called Gucumatz was the fourth generation, and Gucumatz 
was also the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha. 

They left successors and descendants who reigned and ruled, and begot children, and did many 
things. Tepepul and Iztayul whose reign was the fifth generation of kings § were begotten; and in 
the same way, each of the generations of these lords had succession. 


Page 175 of 196 

167:1 Zivan-tinamit. Gumarcaah also was surrounded by ravines. 

167:2 Tzatz naipuch c'atz qui chac x-uxic, literally, "and many were their older and younger 

167:3 Nimatalic xouatal puch u quih r 'ataxic ahauab. Here all the translators have been at a loss 
because of not having read, nor understood, the direct meaning of the words u quih r' ataxic, the 
day of the birth of a person. 

167:4 Ah zivan, Ah tinamit. 

167:5 Xa u qutbal rib rumal xere hu qui zic u holom amac, in the original. 

167:6 .R'oo le ahau x-uxic, in the original. 

Page 176 of 196 

IV. Chapter 10 

rlere are the names of the sixth generation of kings. There were two great kings, the first was 
called Gag-Quicab, and the other, Cavizimah, and they performed heroic deeds and aggrandized 
the Quiche; for surely they were of marvelous nature. 

Here is the destruction and division of the fields and the towns of the neighboring nations, small 
and large. Among them was that, which in olden times, was the country of the Cakchiquel, the 
present Chuvila, 1 and the country of the people of Rabinal, 2 Pamaca, 3 the country of the people 
of Caoque, 4Zaccabaha sand the towns of the peoples of Zaculeu, § of Chuvi-Miquina, 7 Xelahuh, 8 
Chuva-Tzac, 9 and Tzolohche. 10 

These [peoples] hated Quicab. He made war on them and certainly conquered and destroyed the 
fields and towns of the people of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, and the people of Zaculeu; he came 
and conquered all the towns, and the soldiers of Quicab carried his arms to distant parts. One or 
two tribes did not bring tribute, and then he fell upon all the towns and they were forced to bring 
tribute to Quicab and Cavizimah. 

They were made slaves, they were wounded, and they were killed with arrows against the trees [to 
which they had been tied] and for them there was no longer any glory, they no longer had power. 
In this way came about the destruction of the towns, which were instantly razed to the ground. 11 
Like a flash of lightning which strikes and shatters the rock, so, in an instant were the conquered 
people filled with terror. 

Before Colche, as a symbol of a town destroyed by him, there is now a pile of stones, which look 
almost as if they had been cut With the edge of an ax. it is there on the coast, called Petatayub, 12 
and it may be clearly seen today by people who pass, as proof of the valor of Quicab. 

They could neither kill him nor overcome him, for, in truth, he was a brave man, and all the 
people rendered tribute unto him. 

And all the lords, having gathered in council, went to fortify the ravines and the towns, having 
conquered the towns of all the tribes. Then spies went out to observe the enemy and they founded 
something like towns in the occupied places. "Just in case by chance the tribes might return to 
occupy the town," they said, when they reassembled in council. 

Then they went out to [take up] their positions. "These shall be like our forts and our town, our 
walls and defenses, here shall our valor and our manhood be proved," said all the lords, when 
they went to take up the position assigned to each clan in order to fight the enemy. 

And having received their orders they went to the places that had been founded in the land of the 
tribes. "Go there, for now it is our land. Do not be afraid, if there are still enemies who come to 
kill you, come quickly and let me know, and I will go to kill them!" said Quicab, when he took 
leave of all of them in the presence of the Galel and the Ahtzic-Vinac. 13 

Page 177 of 196 

Then the bowmen and the slingers, as they were called, set out. Then the grandfathers and the 
fathers of all the Quiche nation took their [battle] positions. They were on each one of the 
mountains, and they were like guards—of the mountains; they were guarding [with] their bows 
and slings; they were the sentinels of the war. They were not of different origin, nor did they have 
a different god, when they went. They went only to fortify their towns. 

Then all the people of Uvila went out, u those of Chulimal, Zaquiya, Xahbaquieh, Chi-Temah, 
Vahxalahuh, and the people of Cabracan, 15 Chabicac-Chi-Hunahpu, and those of Maca, ig those 
of Xoyabah 17 and those of Zaccabaha, is those of Ziyaha, 19 those of Miquina, 20 those of 
Xelahuh, 21 and those of the coast. They went to observe the war and to guard the land, when they 
went by order of Quicab and Cavizimah, [who were] the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha, and the 
Galel and the Ahtzic-Vinac, who were the four lords. 

They were sent in order to watch the enemies of Quicab and Cavizimah, names of the kings, both 
of the House of Cavec, of Queema, name of the lord of the people of Nihaib, and of Achac-Iboy, 
the name of the lord of the people of Ahau-Quiche. These were the names of the lords who sent 
them, When their sons and vassals went to the mountains, to each one of the mountains. 

They went at once 22 and they took captives; they brought their prisoners into the presence of 
Quicab, Cavizimah, the Galel, and the Ahtzic-Vinac. The bowmen and slingers made war, taking 
captives and prisoners. Some of the defenders of he positions were heroes, and the lords gave 
[them gifts] and lavished rewards upon them, when they came to deliver up all their captives and 

Later they gathered in council by order of the lords, the Ahpop, the Ahpop-Camha, the Galel, and 
the Ahtzic-Vinac, and they decided and said, that those who were there first should have the rank 
of representing their families. "I am the Ahpop! I am the Ahpop-Camha! Mine shall be the rank 
of the Ahpop; meanwhile you, the Ahau-Galel, shall have the rank of Galel," said all the lords 
when they held council. 23 

Those of Tamub and of Ilocab did likewise; equal in position were the three clans of the Quiche 
when for the first time they named their sons and vassals captains, and ennobled them. This was 
the result of the council. But they were not made captains here in Quiche. The mountain where 
the sons and vassals were made captains for the first time has its name, when all were sent, each 
one to his mountain, and all were reunited. Xebalax and Xecamax are the names of the mountains 
where they were made captains and they received their commands. This happened in Chulimal. 

In this manner was the naming, the promotion, and distinction of the twenty Galel, of the twenty 
Ahpop, who were named by the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha and by the Galel and the Ahtzic- 
Vinac. All of the Galel-Ahpops received their rank: eleven Nim-Chocoh, Galel- Ahau, Galel- 
Zaquic, Galel- Achih, Rahpop-Achih, Rahtzalam-Achih, Utzam-Achih were the names which the 
warriors received when their titles and distinctions were conferred upon them, as they were on 
their thrones and on their seats, being the first sons and vassals of the Quiche nation, their spies, 
their scouts, the bowmen, the slingers, the walls, doors, forts, and bastions of the Quiche. 

Page 178 of 196 

Those of Tamub and Ilocab also did thus; they named and ennobled the first sons and vassals who 
were in each place. 

This, then, was the origin of the Galel-Ahpops, and of the titles which are now preserved in each 
one of these places. This is the way their titles were created, by the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha, 
by the Galel and the Ahtzic-Vinac they were created. 


172:1 "In the nettles," a name which the Mexicans translated as Chichicastenango, with identical 
meaning, which is the name it still bears today. 

172:2 The town of Rabinal. 

172:3 Today it is Zacualpa, near the mountains of Joyabaj. 

172:4 The Caoque nation, probably represented by the present towns of Santa Maria and Santiago 

172:5 The present San. Andres Saccabaja. 

172:6 "White earth," a fort of the Main near the ancient town of Chinabjul, today Huehuetenango. 

172:7 "Over the hot water," today Totonicapan, a Mexican name with the same meaning, as 
Atotonilco in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. 

172:8 Xelahuh-Quieh, "under the ten deer or chiefs," the ancient Culaha of the Main, today 

172:9 "In front of the fort," the present Momostenango. 

172:10 "The willow," the present Chiquimula, a short distance from Santa Cruz Quiche. 

172:11 Chi hixtahic u chi uleu, literally, "destroyed level with the ground." 

172:12 The coast of Petatayub is evidentiy the litoral of the Pacific where the Guatemalan town of 
Ayutla stands today, on the border of Mexico. The Titulos de la Casa de Ixcuin-Nihaib mention 
among the conquests of the Quiche in that region, the lands washed by the Samala, Uquz (Ocos), 
Nil, and Xab rivers, which are still known by these same names. Ayutl in Nahuatl is the turtle. The 
pre-Columbian name of this coast was Ayotlan, and thus it appears in the Anales de Cuauhtitldn. 
Anahuac Ayotlan was the name of all the region of Tehuantepec, washed by the Pacific Ocean, 
which Sahagun calls the coast of the turtles, and which later was called Soconusco. It is curious to 
observe that the Aztec word ayotl has the double meaning of "turtle" and "gourd," the same as the 
word coc in the native languages of Guatemala. 

Page 179 of 196 

172:13 The Ahau-Galel was the chief of the House of Nihaib and the Ahtzic-Vinac, the chief of 
the House of Ahau-Quiche. 

172:14 Chuvila, or Chichicastenango. In the manuscript of these Historias del origen de los 
Indios, as well as in the Titulos de la Casa Ixcuin-Nihaib, the inhabitants of this town are called 

172:15 Now Cabrican, a town in the department of Quezaltenango. 

172:16 Pamaca Zacualpa, a town in the department of the Quiche. 

172:17 The present Joyabaj. 

172:18 Today it is called San Andres Saccabaja. 

172:19 Ziyaha, or Ziha, the ancient name of the town known today as Santa Catarina Ixtlahuacan. 

172:20 Totonicapan. 

172:21 Quezaltenango. 

172:22 X-be na cu nabe, in the original. 

172:23 Brasseur de Bourbourg confesses that the translation of this passage is very difficult, and 
observes that Ximenez omitted it altogether. The passage becomes easier to understand by re- 
establishing the punctuation to agree with the original, which Brasseur de Bourbourg has altered 
in his transcription. The original should be read as follows: In Ahpop, in Ahpop-Camhd; Ahpop 
chire caleh vech, oc; chicu ave, at Ahau-Galel, Galel ri calem x-ch'uxic x-e cha cut ronohel 
ahauab, etc. 

Page 180 of 196 

IV. Chapter 11 

W e shall now tell of the house of the God. The house was also given the same name as the god. 
The Great Edifice of Tohil was the name of the Temple of Tohil, of those of Cavec. Avilix was 
the name of the Temple of Avilix, of the people of Nihaib; and Hacavitz was the name of the 
Temple of the God of the people of Ahau-Quiche. 1 

Tzutuha, which is seen in Cahbaha, is the name of a large edifice in which there was a stone 
which all the lords of Quiche worshiped and which was also worshiped by all the tribes. 2 

The people first offered their sacrifices before Tohil, and afterward went to pay their respects to 
the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha. Then they went to Present their gorgeous feathers and their 
tribute before the king. And the kings whom they maintained were the Ahpop and the Ahpop- 
Camha, who had conquered their towns. 

Great lords and wonderful men were the marvelous kings Gucumatz and Cotuha, the marvelous 
kings Quicab and Cavizimah. They knew if there would be war, and everything was clear before 
their eyes; they saw if there would be death and hunger, if there would be strife. They well knew 
that there was a place where it could be seen, that there was a book which they called the Popol 
Vuh. 3 But not only in this way was the estate of the lords great, great also were their fasts. And 
this was in recognition of their having been created, and in recognition of their having been given 
their kingdoms. 4 They fasted a long time and made sacrifices to their gods. Here is how they 
fasted: Nine men fasted and another nine made sacrifices and burned incense. Thirteen more men 
fasted, and another thirteen more made offerings and burned incense before Tohil. And while 
before their god, they nourished themselves only with fruits, with zapotes, matasanos, and 
jocotes. And they did not eat any tortillas. Now if there were seventeen men who made sacrifice, 
or ten who fasted, the truth is they did not eat. They fulfilled their great precepts, and thus showed 
their position as lords. 

Neither had they women to sleep with, but they remained alone, fasting. They were in the House 
of God, all day they prayed, burning incense and making sacrifices. Thus they remained from 
dusk until dawn, grieving in their hearts and in their breasts, and begging for happiness and life 
for their sons and vassals as well as for their kingdom, and raising their faces to the sky. 

Here are their petitions to their god, when they prayed; and this was the supplication of their 

"Oh, You, beauty of the day! You, Huracan; You, Heart of Heaven and of Earth! You, giver of 
richness, 5 and giver of the daughters and the sons! Turn toward us your power and your riches; 
grant life and growth unto my sons and vassals; let those who must maintain and nourish Thee 
multiply and increase; those who invoke Thee on the roads, in the fields, on the banks of the 
rivers, in the ravines, under the trees, under the vines. 

Page 181 of 196 

"Give them daughters and sons. Let them not meet disgrace, nor misfortune, let not the deceiver 
come behind or before them. Let them not fall, let them not be wounded, let them not fornicate, 
nor be condemned by justice. Let them not fall on the descent or on the ascent of the road. Let 
them not encounter obstacles back of them or before them, nor anything which strikes them. 
Grant them good roads, beautiful, level roads. Let them not have misfortune, nor disgrace, 
through Thy fault, through Thy sorceries. 

"Grant a good life to those who must give Thee sustenance and place food in Thy mouth, in your 
presence, to Thee, Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth, Bundle of Majesty. And You, Tohil; You, 
Avilix; You, Hacavitz, Arch of the Sky, Surface of the Earth, the Four Corners, the Four Cardinal 
Points. Let there be but peace and tranquility § in Thy mouth, in Thy presence, oh, God!" 7 

Thus [spoke] the lords, while within, the nine men fasted, the thirteen men, and the seventeen 
men. During the day they fasted and their hearts grieved for their sons and vassals and for all their 
wives and their children when each of the lords made his offering. 

This was the price of a happy life, the price of power, the price of the authority of the Ahpop, of 
the Ahpop-Camha, of the Galel and of the Ahtzic-Vinac. Two by two they ruled, each pair 
succeeding the other in order to bear the burden of the people of all the Quiche nation. 

One only was the origin of their tradition and [one only] the origin of the manner of maintaining 
and sustaining, and one only, too, was the origin of the tradition and the customs of those of 
Tamub and Ilocab and the people of Rabinal and the Cakchiquel, those of Tziquinaha, of 
Tuhalaha and Uchabaha. And there was but one trunk [a single family] when they heard there in 
Quiche what all of them were to do. 

But it was not only thus that they reigned. They did not squander the gifts of those whom they 
sustained and nourished, but they ate and drank them. Neither did they buy them; they had won 
and seized their empire, their power, and their sovereignty. 

And it was not at small cost, that they conquered the fields and the towns; the small towns and the 
large towns paid high ransoms; they brought precious stones and metals, they brought honey of 
the bees, bracelets, bracelets of emeralds and other stones, and brought garlands made of blue 
feathers, § the tribute of all the towns. They came into the presence of the marvelous kings 
Gucumatz and Cotuha, and before Quicab and Cavizimah, the Ahpop, the Ahpop-Camha, the 
Galel and the Ahtzic-Vinac. 9 

It was not little what they did, neither were few, the tribes which they conquered. Many branches 
of the tribes came to pay tribute to the Quiche; full of sorrow they came to give it over. 
Nevertheless, the [Quiche] power did not grow quickly. Gucumatz it was, who began the 
aggrandizement of the kingdom. Thus was the beginning of his aggrandizement and that of the 
Quiche nation. 

And now we shall name the generations of the lords and give their names; again we shall name all 
of the lords. 

Page 182 of 196 


177:1 The houses or temples of the Quiche gods were destroyed after the abandonment of the 
city. The stones and other materials taken from the ruins of Utatlan were used to construct the 
buildings of Santa Cruz, the neighboring city founded by the Spaniards. There was scarcely left, 
among the ruins of the ancient Quiche capital, any remains of the place of sacrifice, or the Temple 
of Tohil. 

177:2 Tzutuhd, "Flowery Water" or "fountain. "Cahbahd, "house of sacrifices" or "sacrificing 
place." The name of this place is very similar to that of the well-known town which is today 
called San Andres Saccabaja, located a short distance from Santa Cruz Quiche. The Titulo de los 
Senores de Totonicapdn says that the Quiche tribes were for some time in Tzutuha, and says 
further that "there they also found a stone similar to the one which Nacxit had given them." 

177:3 Xax qu'etaam vi qu cut ilbal re, qo vuh Popol Vuh u bi cumal. Through error, Brasseur de 
Bourbourg Writes qo qutibal re here. My translation agrees with that of Ximenez, which says: 
"and there was a place where they could see everything, and a book of all, which they called Book 
of the Community." 

177:4 Are locbal tzac, locbal ahauarem cumal. The fast of the Quiche was absolute, according to 
the text. It was a general practice among the Mexicans, but less strict, for they made a light meal 
during the day and another at night. 

177:5 Ganal raxal, "abundance of riches." Diccionario Cakchiquel. 

177:6 Xa ta zac, xa ta amac. "Only may there be peace in your presence. "--Ximenez. 

177:7 Bishop Las Casas has also included in his Apologetica Historia (Chap. CLXXVIII, p. 468) 
a prayer which he says the Indians of Guatemala recited during the human sacrifices, the essence 
of which is identical to the prayer given here. It says: "Lord God, remember us who are Thine; 
grant us health, give us children and prosperity so that thy people shall increase and serve thee; 
give us water and good weather so that we may maintain ourselves and that we may live; hear our 
petitions, receive our prayers, help us against our enemies; give us ease and rest." 

177:8 X-ul puch raxon cubul chactic. The raxon (Cotinga) shared with the quetzal, guc, the honor 
of adorning with its feathers the gods and the kings; the beautiful sky blue feathers of the raxon 
were joined and then they were called pixo raxon, "sewed feathers," an expression which Zuniga 
(Diccionario Pokonchi-Castellano) explains, by saying that "the feathers are interwoven and 
[fasten] with knots of a very fine thread, with great skill, and there are some garlands of these 
blue feathers which they wear in their dances, and which they wear around their temples and 
forehead." Cubul chactic are these garlands of feathers sewed, as Zuniga says, or stuck into a 
framework of light wood. 

Page 183 of 196 

177:9 in the Titulos de la Casa de Ixcuin-Nihaib there is an interesting account of the conquests of 
the Quiche kings, and of the tribute which the conquered nations had to pay them. 

Page 184 of 196 

IV. Chapter 12 

rlere, then, are the generations and the order of all the rulers which began with our first 
grandfathers and our first fathers, Balam-Quitze, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, when 
the sun appeared, and the moon and the stars were seen. 

Now, then, we shall give the beginning of the generations, the order of kingdoms from the 
beginning of their lineage, how the lords entered into power, from their accessions to their deaths: 
[we shall give] each generation of lords and ancestors, as well as the lord of the town, all and each 
of the lords. Here, then, the person 1 of each one of the lords of the Quiche shall be shown. 

Balam-Quitze, the root of those of Cavec. 

Qocavib, second generation [of the line] of Balam-Quitze. 2 

Balam-Conache, with whom the tide of Ahpop began, third generation. 3 

Cotuha [I] and Iztayub, fourth generation, a 

Gucumatz and Cotuha, [II] first of the marvelous kings, who were of the fifth generation. 5 

Tepepul and Iztayul, of the sixth order, § 

Quicab and Cavizimah, of the seventh order of succession to the kingdom. 7 

Tepepul and Iztayub, eighth generation. 

Tecum and Tepepul, ninth generation. § 

Vahxaqui-Caam 9 and Quicab, tenth generation of kings. 

Vucub-Noh and Cauutepech, eleventh order of kings. 10 

Oxib-Queh and Beleheb-Tzi, the twelfth generation of kings. These were those who reigned when 
Donadhi came, and who were hanged by the Spaniards. 11 

Tecum and Tepepul, who paid tribute to the Spaniards, they left sons, and the former were the 
thirteenth generation of kings. 12 

Don Juan de Rojas and don Juan Cortes, the fourteenth generation of kings, were the sons of 
Tecum and Tepepul. 

These are, then, the generations and the order of the kingdom of the lords Ahpop and Ahpop- 
Camha of the Quiche of Cavec. 

Page 185 of 196 

And now we shall name again the families. These are the Great Houses of each of the lords who 
followed the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camha. These are the names of the nine families of those of 
Cavec, of the nine Great Houses, 13 and these are the titles of the lords of each one of the Great 

Ahau-Ahpop, one Great House. Cuha was the name of this Great House. 

Ahau- Ahpop-Camha, whose Great House was called Tziquinaha. 

Nim-Chocoh-Cavec, one Great House. 

Ahau-Ah-Tohil, one Great House. 

Ahau-Ah-Gucumatz, one Great House. 

Popol-Vinac Chituy, one Great House. 

Lolmet-Quehnay, one Great House. 

Popol-Vinac Pahom Tzalatz Xcuxeba, one Great House. 

Tepeu-Yaqui, one Great House. 

These, then, are the nine families of Cavec. And very numerous were the sons and vassals of the 
tribes which followed these nine Great Houses. 

Here are the nine Great Houses of those of Nihaib. But first we shall give the lineage of the rulers 
of the kingdom. From one root only these names originated when the sun began to shine, with the 
beginning of light. 

Balam-Acab, first grandfather and father. 

Qoacul and Qoacutec, second generation. 

Cochahuh and Cotzibaha, third generation. 

Beleheb-Queh [I], u fourth generation. 

Cotuha, [I] fifth generation of kings. 

Batza, sixth generation. 

Iztayul, seventh generation of kings. 

Cotuha [II], eighth order of the kingdom. 

Page 186 of 196 

Beleheb-Queh [II], ninth order. 

Quema, so called, tenth generation. 

Ahau-Cotuha, eleventh generation. 

Don Cristoval, so called, who ruled in the time of the Spaniards. 

Don Pedro de Robles, the present Ahau-Galel. 

These, then, are all the kings who descended from the Ahau-Galel. Now we shall name the lords 
of each of the Great Houses. 

Ahau-Galel, first lord of the Nihaib, head of one Great House. 

Ahau-Ahtzic-Vinac, one Great House. 

Ahau-Galel-Camha, one Great House. 

Nima-Camha, one Great House. 

Uchuch-Camha, one Great House. 

Nim-Chocoh-Nihaib, one Great House. 

Ahau-Avilix, one Great House. 

Yacolatam, one Great House. 15 

Nima-Lolmet-Ycoltux, one Great House. 

These, then, are the Great Houses of the Nihaib; these were the names of the nine families of 
those of Nihaib, as they were called. Numerous were the families of each one of the lords, whose 
names we have given first. 

Here, now, is the lineage of those of Ahau-Quiche, who were their grandfather and father. 

Mahucutah, the first man. 

Qoahau, name of the second generation of kings. 




Page 187 of 196 





These were the kings of those of the Ahau-Quiche; this is the order of their generations. 

Here now are the tides of the lords who made up the Great Houses; there were only four Great 

Ahtzic-Vinac-Ahau, title of the first lord, one Great House. 

Lolmet-Ahau, second lord, a Great House. 

Nim-Chocoh-Ahau, third lord, a Great House. 

Hacavitz, fourth lord, a Great House. 

Therefore, four were the Great Houses of the Ahau-Quiche. 

There were, then, three Nim-Chocoh, who were like fathers [vested with authority] of all the lords 
of the Quiche. i§ The three Chocoh came together in order to make known the orders of the 
mothers, the orders of the fathers. 17 Great was the position of the three Chocoh. 

There were, then, the Nim-Chocoh of those of Cavec, is the Nim-Chocoh of those of Nihaib, who 
was second, and the Nim-Chocoh-Ahau of the Ahau-Quiche, who was third. Each one of the three 
Chocoh represented his family. 

And this was the life of the Quiche, because no longer can be seen [the book of the Popol Vuh] 
which the kings had in olden times, 19 for it has disappeared. 

In this manner, then, all the people of the Quiche, which is called Santa Cruz, 20 came to an end. 


182:1 Literally, "the face," u vach. 

182:2 The text in this place does not mention Qocaib, the son of Balam-Quitze as the immediate 
successor of the latter. Nevertheless, Chapter 6 of this part refers to the return from the East of 
Qocaib, Qoacutec, and Qoahau and their arrival at Hacavitz, and it says literally that the three 
princes, who belonged to each of the three large divisions of the Quiche nation, "assumed again 

Page 188 of 196 

their rule of the tribes." it is possible that there may be an error in copying here, and that the name 
which was in the original Quiche manuscript, now lost, may have been that of Qocaib and not 

182:3 Balam-Conache, son of Qocavib and of the wife of his brother Qocaib. was legitimatized 
by the latter, and ruled in union with Beleheb-Qeh, 9 Deer, according to Chap. 7 of Part IV. 

182:4 Cotuha, a man whom the Titulo de Totonicapdn says the Quiche found in the field hunting 
quail, and that having invited him to join them, he occupied the place of Iqui-Balam, who had 
died. Cotuha ruled in company with Ixtayul, Nahuatl name which means "heart of flint." This was 
the son of Balam-Conache. 

182:5 U xe naual ahau. The root or beginning of the sorcerer kings, the marvelous kings, as 
Ximenez calls them. This Cotuha was the second king of this name and was the father of Quicab, 
according to the Titulo de Totonicapan. In the time of these kings, the capital was moved to 
Gumarcaah, and the twenty-four families or great houses of the nobility were organized. The 
Titulo expressly declares that the nine large branches of the House of Cavec "came out from the 
House of the Prince Qocaib." Gucumatz and Cotuha went to conquer the towns of the Pacific 
Coast, and, according to the Titulos de Ixcuin-Nihaib, "that chief [Gucumatz] being happy, and to 
please his soldiers, became an eagle and plunged into the sea, making a demonstration of his 
conquest." Chapter 9 of this part also speaks of the metamorphosis of this king. 

182:6 Tepetl pul, words in the Mexican language which mean "hill of stones." 

182:7 Gag-Quicab, "of many arms," Ximenez interprets it. It may be that "of the hands of fire." 
Cavizimah, who adorns himself with points like lances or arrows (itz in Nahuatl), according to 
Ximenez. Quicab and Cavizimah were the great conquerors who subdued all the peoples of the 
interior of Guatemala, as Chapter 10 of this part relates in detail. 

182:8 Ximenez says that in the time of these kings, the Cakchiquel (previously subdued by 
Quicab) rebelled. According to the Annals of the Cakchiquel, the Quiche were overcome by them 
in Iximche, and their kings were made prisoners and they were obliged to surrender their gods. 

182:9 Eight Vines. As Brasseur de Bourbourg observes, it is the translation of the Mexican name 
Chicuey Malinalli, tenth day of the Aztec calendar. During the reign of these princes, according to 
Ximenez, it happened that a Cakchiquel Indian, whom the Quiche remember in their dance called 
Quiche-Vinac, and who was probably the son of the Cakchiquel king, came at night to shout 
insults at the Quiche king. When at last they captured him and were on the point of sacrificing 
him, he announced the arrival of the Spaniards in these words: "Know that a time must come 
when you will despair because of the disasters which will fall upon you; and this mama caixon 
["old bitter one," a nickname directed at the Quiche king] must also die; and know that some men 
dressed, and not naked like us, armed from head to foot, will destroy these buildings, which will 
become the homes of owls and wildcats and all this grandeur of the court shall cease." 

182:10 Vucub-Noh, 7 Noh, a day of the calendar. Cauutepech, "adorned with rings," says 
Ximenez, because this king used to wear such ornaments. 

Page 189 of 196 

182:11 Oxib-Queh, 3 Deer; Beleheb-Tzi, 9 Dog: These are days of the calendar. The Mexicans 
called King Beleheb-Tzi, Chiconavi-Ocelotl, which is to say, 9 Jaguar, and from these is derived 
the name of Chignauicelut which the Spaniards gave him. Donadiu, or Tonatiuh, the sun, in 
Nahuatl, was the name which the Mexicans gave to the Spanish conqueror, Pedro de Alvarado, 
who destroyed the Quiche kingdom and burned their kings. 

182:12 Tecum, "heaped up." This king must not be confused with the general-in-chief of the 
Quiche army who appeared fighting at the front of his troops against the Spaniards. The fate of 
King Tecum, is not known, but Tepepul is King Sequechul of whom the Libro de Cabildo and the 
chroniclers of the Conquest speak, who reigned from 1524 to 1526. After the insurrection of the 
Indians in 1526, he was imprisoned until 1540, and in this latter year, Alvarado hanged him 
together with the Cakchiquel king Belehe-Qat, whom the Spaniards called Sinacan. 

182:13 Are u binaam vi beleheh chinamit chi Caviquib beleheb. The four last words are lacking in 
the transcription made by Brasseur de Bourbourg. 

182:14 Beleheb-Quih in the original, through evident error. In Chapter 7 of this part the correct 
version of this name appears as Beleheb-Queh, 9 Queh, a day of the calendar. 

182:15 In the original the name of Nima-Camha appears twice, and those of Utzampop-Zaclatol 
and Nima Lolmet-Ycoltux, which appear in Chapter 8 of this Part IV are not included at all. 

182:16 Queheri e cahauixel rumal ronohel ahauab Quiche. The Nim-Chocoh (Great Chosen or 
Great Counsellors) were the dignitaries charged with proclaiming and executing the decisions of 
the government. E alanel, "those who give birth," the text calls them. 

182:17 E alanel, e u chuch tzih e u cahau tzih, literally, "those who proclaim the word of the 
mothers, the word of the fathers." 

182:18 Ximenez, in his translation, supplies this line omitted in the original, surely through an 
error made in the transcription from the Quiche text. 

182:19 The sentence from this place in the original is as follows: rumal mahabi chi ilbal re qo 
nabe oher cumal ahauab, and is evidently garbled. It is easily completed, however, by comparing 
it with two other sentences of the text, one from the preamble which says: rumal ma-habi chic 
ilbal re Popo Vuh, and one from Chapter 11 of Part IV which reads: Xax qu'etaam vi qo cut ilbal 
re, qo vuh, Popol Vuh u bi cumal. The author ends his work by explaining again that he had to 
write it because the ancient book no longer exists in which the kings read the past and the future 
of their people. 

182:20 As has been said in another place, it was Bishop Marroquin who baptized with the name 
of Santa Cruz the Spanish city which replaced the ancient Quiche capital. 

Page 190 of 196 


[a] A Note by Sylvanus Griswold Morley 

1 he Popol Vuh, or Sacred Book of the ancient Quiche Maya, as it has been happily subtitled, is, 
beyond any shadow of doubt, the most distinguished example of native American literature that 
has survived the passing centuries. 

The original redaction of this most precious fragment of ancient American learning is now lost; 
however, it seems first to have been reduced to writing (in characters of the Latin script), in the 
middle of the sixteenth century, from oral traditions then current among the Quiche, by some 
unknown but highly educated, not to say literary, member of that race. 

This now lost original was again copied in the Quiche language, again in characters of the Latin 
script, at the end of the seventeenth century, by Father Francisco Ximenez, then parish priest of 
the village of Santo Tomas Chichicastenango in the highlands of Guatemala, directly from the 
original sixteenth-century manuscript which he had borrowed for the purpose from one of his 
Indian parishioners. 

The Popol Vuh is, indeed, the Sacred Book of the Quiche Indians, a branch of the ancient Maya 
race, and contains an account of the cosmogony, mythology, traditions, and history of this native 
American people, who were the most powerful nation of the Guatemala highlands in pre- 
Conquest times. It is written in an exalted and elegant style, and is an epic of the most 
distinguished literary quality. 

Indeed, the chance preservation of this manuscript only serves to emphasize the magnitude of the 
loss which the world has suffered in the almost total destruction of aboriginal American literature. 

Museum of New Mexico 

Santa Fe, June 22, 1948 

Page 191 of 196 

[b] A Note by Adrian Recinos 

1 he national book of the Quiche, which contains the mythology, traditions, and history of this 
remarkable American people, was not known by the scientific world until the past century, when 
two European travelers, Carl Scherzer and Abbe Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, 
published, respectively, the first Spanish version made in Guatemala at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century and a contemporary French translation. The two illustrious travelers visited the 
Central American countries almost at the same time, in 1854 and 1855, and both interested 
themselves in the study of the aboriginal races of Guatemala, which were those that had reached 
the highest degree of civilization in the center of the New World. 

In the library of the University of San Carlos in the city of Guatemala, Scherzer found the 
manuscript which contains the transcription of the Quiche text and the first Spanish version of the 
Popol Vuh, made by Father Francisco Ximenez of the Dominican Order. This first Spanish 
version of the Quiche document was published by Scherzer in Vienna in 1857. 

The Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg carried his interest in the Indian cultures of Guatemala much 
further. Having lived for some time in the country, he was in contact with the Indians, learned the 
Quiche and Cakchiquel tongues, and upon his return to Europe he published in Paris, in 1861, a 
handsome volume entitled Popol Vuh, Le Livre Sacre et les mythes de I'antiquite americaine, 
avec les livres heroiques et historiques des Quiches, which contains the original Quiche text, a 
translation into French, an extensive introduction, and rather full notes. The publication of this 
work at once attracted the attention of the public to the native peoples of Central America, whose 
existence and cultural achievements were at that time completely unknown in Europe and the 
United States. Since then, the book has been used by historians and ethnologists in their 
investigations of the native races and civilizations of America. 

Brasseur de Bourbourg collected a number of old manuscripts in Guatemala, which he took with 
him to Europe and used in his writings on the history and the Indian languages of Central 
America. Among them was the volume which contains the Arte or grammar of the three principal 
languages of Guatemala, the Cakchiquel, the Quiche, and the Zutuhil, written in the eighteenth 
century by the same Father Francisco Ximenez, who was parish priest of Santo Tomas Chuila, the 
present Chichicastenango. The same manuscript volume includes also the transcription and 
translation of the Popol Vuh, composed of 112 folios written in two columns, which has the tide 
Empiezan las historias del origen de los Indios de esta provincia de Guatemala. This volume, in 
the handwriting of Father Ximenez, was acquired in Europe by Edward E. Ayer, and today forms 
part of the valuable linguistic collection which bears his name and is preserved in the Newberry 
Library of Chicago. 

The catalog of the Ayer Collection, however, did not list the manuscript of the Historias del 
origen de los Indios, which as has been said, is bound together with that of the Arte de las tres 
lenguas by Father Ximenez. For this reason it was a very pleasant surprise to me to find it at the 
end of that volume, when I visited the Newberry Library for the first time in 1941. 1 wish to 
express here my gratitude to Mary Lapham Buder, in charge of the Edward E. Ayer Collection, 
for the facilities which she made available to me to complete my research in that center of study. 

Page 192 of 196 

Comparing the original text transcribed by Ximenez with the text published by Brasseur de 
Bourbourg, I noticed some differences, important omissions, and other changes which affect the 
interpretation of the Quiche document. Furthermore, the possibility of clarifying and correcting 
passages in the existing translations stimulated my desire to undertake a new version direct from 
the original Quiche into Spanish. Thus, by making use of the work of my predecessors in this 
field, I would somewhat advance knowledge of the document that Bancroft has called the most 
valuable heritage which we have received from aboriginal American thought. 

When the Spanish version was published in Mexico in 1947, my distinguished friend Sylvanus 
Griswold Morley, recognized as the highest authority on the Maya civilization, became interested 
in having an English translation made of this old book of the Quiche. It seems strange, indeed, 
that while this historical and mythological masterpiece is known in several Spanish, French, and 
German translations, there is no complete version in English for the use of readers and students of 
the English-speaking world. Mr. Morley' s enthusiasm found generous response in the Rockefeller 
Foundation, always disposed to lend its support to intellectual pursuits, and with its valuable 
assistance the present English translation has been carried to a happy conclusion. 

In both the Spanish and the English version of the Popol Vuh, I have tried to keep to the original 
text and to adjust myself strictly to the peculiarities of the Quiche language, which is simple and 
synthetical and yet does not lack elegance of expression. It would have been easy to give the 
narrative a literary form more pleasing to the modern reader; but this could have been done only 
by sacrificing the fidelity which must be the translator's guide in a work of this kind. In general I 
have tried to preserve the original construction, its passive forms and its frequent repetitions. In 
doing so, I have found very helpful the grammars and vocabularies of the Quiche and Cakchiquel 
languages compiled by the Spanish missionaries, which may be consulted In various libraries of 
Europe and the United States. The words of the original manuscript appear in footnotes when they 
have been omitted or altered In the transcription by Brasseur de Bourbourg. The spelling is that of 
the original text. Father Francisco de la Parra, in the middle of the sixteenth century, invented four 
characters to represent certain sounds peculiar to the Indian languages of Guatemala. These 
phonetic signs sometimes appear in the Ximenez manuscript, but they are not reproduced here 
because it is not considered necessary. In their place the generally accepted equivalent is given. 
The sound of v is the same as that of u, as was the custom in Spanish colonial times. The h has the 
same sound as in English. The initial x which occurs in certain Quiche words and proper names is 
the sign of the feminine and the diminutive and is pronounced like sh. For example, Xbalanque 
and Xmucane are pronounced Shbalanque and Shmucane respectively. 

The original manuscript is not divided into parts or chapters; the text runs without interruption 
from the beginning until the end. In this translation I have followed the Brasseur de Bourbourg 
division into four parts, and each part into chapters, because the arrangement seems logical and 
conforms to the meaning and subject matter of the work. Since the version of the French Abbe is 
the best known, this will facilitate the work of those readers who may wish to make a comparative 
study of the various translations of the Popol Vuh. 

The etymology of the proper names is a difficult matter and lends itself to dangerous conjectures 
and deceptive suppositions. For this reason, I have accepted only those which seem natural, 
without entering into an analysis of the components of the ancient names, a work which seldom 

Page 193 of 196 

gives real results. In various places, however, I have pointed out the relation of these names to 
others of the Maya tongue, to which the Quiche has a close resemblance, and sometimes with the 
Nahuatl tongue of Mexico, which has greatly influenced the languages of Central America. 

I have also proceeded with caution in the use of geographical names. Some of the places 
mentioned in the text still retain their old names; but many others are known by the Mexican or 
Spanish names which were given to them after the Conquest. The modern names of the ancient 
places which it has been possible to identify may be found in the notes. 

Guatemala, C. A. 

January 6, 1950 

Page 194 of 196 

[e] Paper Concerning the Origin of the Lords 

[The following description of the origin of the Quiche lords is found in the document entitled 
"Description de Zapotitlan y Suchitepec," enviada al Rey de Espana por el Corregidor Juan de 
Estrada el 22 de noviembre de 1572, the original manuscript of which is in the Latin-American 
Library of the University of Texas.] 

THE FIRST KING that these people of Utatlan had was called Balam Quise. This king came from 
the part of the East and brought with him two other brothers, one called Balam Acap, the other 
called Mahu Cutah. These three were equal in command, and the first ones who populated the 
land of Rabinal. Balam Quise, the older brother, had two sons, one called Cocoha and the other 
Corojon Amac. These two sons of Balam Quise were the first ones who discovered the province 
of Utatlan and explored, populated, and subjected it. 

Cocoha begat E. This one reigned in the place of his father, who was called Cocoha, and he it was 
who conquered the land of Robonal and the surrounding country. Corojon Amac, second son of 
Balam. Quise, brother of Cocoha, begat Tziquin. This Tziquin and E. were equal in command and 
they fought by night and they went by night to slay the enemy people, whom they found scattered 
and careless, and in order to make themselves feared, they appeared before men, by the work of 
the devil, as jaguars and pumas, and they flew by night through the air, spouting fire from their 
mouths, and in this way they did great damage, for which they were held in much fear and all the 
land of Robinal submitted to them. And they made the people understand that they were the sons 
of Tzacol Pitol, which is to say, that they were the sons of the Maker of all things. 

E. [was] the real king, by virtue of being the older brother, and he begat Ah. This one also was a 
sorcerer and did as his forefathers had done. Tziquin begat Acan, and they were equal in 
command, the two first cousins between them, and they were great sorcerers. 

Ah, the legitimate lord, begat Cocayb and Cocayvim. Cocayb was the heir to the kingdom 
through his father, and was the first one to make a republic [of his land]. This Cocayb thus 
subjected the eleven lords left [unconquered] by his ancestors, and he was the first who founded a 
town. He built and made his royal house and fort at Robinal. This one was the first one who 
divided the lands and made a captain and governors and captains, and he divided them into heads 
of wards [calpules]. He was the first one who made laws and established legal rights, and he was 
the first one who made them pay tribute, each one according to what he had and held, and he, who 
did not have wherewith to pay tribute, served with his own person or other suitable things. 

This Cocayb made his brother Cocaybim general of his land, which [position] is called Ahpop, 
and he made him equal thus, although he did not recognize [his] right by descent [mayorazgo]. 
This latter instituted and named nine captains or governors, who governed the town and assisted 
him, and not one of them who was [still] young could govern, until he became of age, and he was 
deemed and held as apt, and if he was not [of age], one of those nearest to his family and 
parentage governed until he was of age. 

This Cocabim, the second brother, because of the absence of his brother, who had wandered away 
from his house, had a son by his sister-in-law, and his brother Cocayb being about to return [from 

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his wanderings] and in view of the penalties, which had been fixed by his law, before he left, that 
of hanging, and since he had had a son by his brother's wife, the child's grandmother kept him in 
hiding, and being of age his uncle and step-father gave him the position of his father, to be one of 
the Ahpop [a principal officer of the kingdom], in this way the kingdom was bestowed upon this 
Cocayb without any one else being allowed to govern or to be king. 

This Cocayb begat Quehnay and other five sons, which were appointed governors by this king 
and from then on until the Spaniards came the kings had this name of Quehnay, because it is 
[regarded] among the natives like Caesar. 

From the second brother, who was called Cocaybim, succeeded all those who were called Ahpop 
until there came a successor, who was called Conache, grandfather of Don Juan Cortes, who is 
now living. This Conache died in the battle which the Adelantado Don Pedro de Alvarado fought 
on the plains of the town of Quezaltenango, which belongs to the Royal Crown. 

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